IRP21-01: Employment Transitions, Income, and Material Hardship among Older Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic



Amidst the economic and social upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic, older workers (50+) are being abruptly pushed and pulled out of the labor market and facing significant economic insecurity. Employment transitions to unemployment or early retirement may be particularly disruptive if they occur before workers are eligible for Social Security or other retirement benefits. Unemployment is associated with poverty and material hardships, such as food insecurity and unmet medical needs, but little is known about later life employment transitions and these important indicators of economic wellbeing. This project examines the associations between employment transitions, income, and material hardship among older workers before and during the pandemic. We will use multiple waves of two complementary data sources, the Current Population Survey and the Household Pulse Survey, from 2019-2021. In addition, we will focus on six potential moderators of the relationships between employment, poverty, and material hardship among older adults: age, educational attainment, race/ethnicity, gender, disability status, and living with children. Our analysis will illuminate risk factors for more than 100 million older adults living in the United States whose trajectories have been disrupted by a global pandemic.


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