This month's articles address two widely discussed labour market trends-early retirement and home-based work. The common belief is that both are increasing sharply and, implicitly, likely to continue doing so. However, as is often the case, the situation is not so clear.
As the first article shows, the age at which people 'retire' from a job has indeed been dropping since the mid-1970s. But much of the surge in early retirement seen in the 1990s can be attributed to government downsizing—
a phenomenon that has virtually ceased. Many factors affect the decision to retire, and it is difficult to predict how the early retirement rate will evolve. In addition, very little is currently known about the likelihood of a retirement being permanent. How many recent retirees, especially younger ones, will return to some form of gainful employment?
The second article confirms that working from home has indeed increased over the years. But, this growth has not exceeded the overall increase in employment-the proportion of workers doing at least some work at home has not changed significantly. As the article points out, operational considerations and life-cycle factors exert considerable influence on the feasibility or desirability of working at home.
Also this month, we add to our series of Fact sheets with an update on work absences.