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December 2002     Vol. 3, no. 12

Men 55 and older: Work or retire?

Roman Habtu

  • In 2001, nearly 220,000 men aged 55 to 59 were not active in the labour market.
  • The proportion of those not in the labour force rose for men aged 55 to 64 over the 1976 to 2001 period. The increase among men 55 to 59 is significant given their life expectancy and because they are below the age of eligibility for the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans.
  • In 1976, labour market inactivity among men aged 55 to 59 was almost exclusively a domain of less-educated men. By 2001, the inactivity rate of men with a university degree was almost equal to that of men with only elementary education.
  • While a majority had been inactive for more than a year, a smaller proportion left their last job in the previous 12 months. In 2001, a majority of those who had worked in the previous 12 months left for reasons of retirement, followed by economic conditions (business conditions, layoff, etc.) A smaller proportion cited own illness or disability.


Roman Habtu is with Labour and Household Surveys Analysis Division. She can be reached at (613) 951-3830 or

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