Eastern Europeans want to retire earlier than Western Europeans

The retirement age could be raised in all European Union member states, but Eastern and Western Europeans are not on the same page on this – as Estonian sociologist Ave Roots has found out.

The European Union would like to reach the point where three-quarters of all people of working age are employed by 2020. Achieving this goal would require, among other things, raising the retirement age in all member states. But are people who are approaching old age satisfied with the retirement age that has been set by the state, or would they like to begin enjoying their retirement under a palm tree at an earlier age?

In order to find out, the Estonian sociologist, Ave Roots, in cooperation with her Aalborg University (Denmark) colleague, Wouter De Tavernier, studied the 2010 European Social Survey data set. They checked the positions of EU residents in relation to retirement and their sample included 4,500 working people between the ages of 50 and 69.

The scientists discovered that a difference of opinion exists in Eastern and Western Europe regarding retirement. In Eastern Europe, people would like to retire 27 months sooner than Western Europeans. In both regions, women prefer to retire earlier than their male colleagues, but the difference is greater in the Eastern part, where women would like to retire, on average, two years earlier than men. In Western Europe, the fairer sex would like to enjoy the fruits of their pension six months sooner than the men of their region. “This may be a consequence of the fact that in Eastern European countries the official retirement age is dependent on gender,” Roots and Tavernier said.

In Eastern Europe, satisfaction with work is associated with income and also how important a person considers work to be; while in Western Europe, satisfaction with work is associated with greater well-being.


This is a slightly edited version of an article published in the Research in Estonia portal. A longer study, “When Do People Want to Retire? The Preferred Retirement Age Gap between Eastern and Western Europe Explained”, by Ave Roots and Wouter De Tavernier, was published in the journal Studies of Transition States and Societies. Cover: Spa treatment in Estonia (the image is illustrative/courtesy of EAS).

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Estonian World is in a dire need of your support.
Read our appeal here and become a supporter on Patreon 
Scroll to Top