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Introduction: Policy responses to ageing and the extension of working lives

Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, the relationship between work and ageing has become increasingly visible as a policy issue. It is both reflected in and influenced by changes in macro-economic policy, life-opportunities and social attitudes associated with growing older, as a combination of falling birth rates and increased longevity and has put pressure on the traditional parameters of the working age. The idea of retiring at a fixed point in the life-course, to enjoy a period of rest or leisure at the end of a working life, emerged in many advanced economies during the 1900s and evolved into policies that encouraged early retirement as the baby-boomers entered the jobs market in the 1960s and 1970s (Phillipson and Smith, 2005). Early retirement, itself a relatively recent development, gave rise to the possibility of a ‘third age’ of leisure and active ageing (Laslett, 1987), but as demographic and economic changes make themselves felt, it is again becoming an uncertain prospect for many older workers (Biggs and McGann, 2015).