Pathways of paid Work, care provision, and volunteering in later careers: activity substitution or extension?

Mariska van der Horst, Sarah Vickerstaff, David Lain, Charlotte Clark, Ben Baumberg Geiger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is well established that what happens to older people in one domain (like paid work) is likely to be related to what happens in another domain (like family caring or voluntary work). There is, however, limited research on the interplay between multiple activity domains in later careers. Research tends to focus on one domain (such as employment), and bring in aspects from other domains (such as volunteering) to explain outcomes. This article instead examines the interplay between 3 domains—paid work, care provision, and volunteering—using sequence analyses, cluster analyses, and loglinear modeling. It assesses 2 competing perspectives. The role substitution perspective suggests people take on activities (such as volunteering) to replace the loss of other activities (such as paid work). The role extension perspective alternatively suggests that people that are active in one area are likely to be active in others as well. Using the first 6 waves of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), we examine 10-year pathways taken by individuals aged 50+ in relation to paid work, care provision, and volunteering. We find little support for either view of role substitution or extension. The 3 activity domains were largely independent of each other, suggesting that the factors influencing involvement in different combinations of activities are more complex. Nevertheless, we found some indicative evidence that part-time work and volunteering were complementary. Gender was important for the combination of pathways in paid work and care provision.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-365
Number of pages23
JournalWork, Aging and Retirement
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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