Ending a Career in a Declining Industry: The Retirement Experience of Male Auto Workers

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Since the late 1970s, global competition has severely undermined profit margins of American corporations. The result has been a loss of jobs for more than five million workers. While research has clearly documented the negative impact of economic conditions on younger workers, older workers appear to have a safety net afforded by seniority systems, wage guarantees, and the option of retirement. The auto industry, which has been particularly hard hit, has used early retirement incentives as one mechanism for resolving the industry's unemployment problems. This study of early retirement among auto workers demonstrates that the apparent protection afforded blue-collar unionized workers does not necessarily guarantee them income security. The data indicate that older auto workers feel significant pressures to withdraw from the labor force but that these early retirees subsequently feel less satisfied than other retirees with the timing of their retirement and that they pay a heavy financial penalty in terms of retirement income.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-62
Number of pages12
JournalSociological Perspectives
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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