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University of Westminster awarded £1.3m to examine health consequences of working longer

3 February 2014

The University of Westminster has been awarded a research grant of £1.3m to examine the health risks and benefits associated with working later in life. It will also enable the University to explore ways of promoting healthy employment among older people.

The Extending Working Lives project will provide insight into how to better support longer and healthier working lives which are resilient to the pressures of highly competitive labour markets. The findings will enable the project team to contribute towards evidence based policy-making at a national and international level.

The research is being funded by Lifelong Health and Wellbeing (LLHW), a cross-council initiative established to meet the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population. The study will follow 140 individuals from the UK, US and Italy for three years as they make the transition from employment to retirement. This part of the study will indicate the mechanisms by which health outcomes may vary for different social groups.

Populations across the developed world are ageing and a combination of an early retirement culture and rising life expectancy is increasing concerns about poverty in older age, skills shortages and subsequent fiscal imbalances. Pension reforms and extending working life policies are becoming priorities for governments, however, there is limited understanding of the potential consequences of working later in life and the associated health risks.

Dr Deborah Smeaton, senior research fellow in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Westminster, said: “Through this research, we will get a much clearer understanding of the impact that longer working lives may have for different social groups, and be able to provide information and guidance to individuals, employers, government and other policy makers."

“The potential challenges associated with an ageing workforce are global and the research is designed to ensure lessons are learned from an international perspective.”

Deborah Smeaton, senior research fellow in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Westminster, will be the principal investigator of the project and will work collaboratively with 11 other UK based and international partners.

  • UK team – Prof. Angela Clow (University of Westminster); Dr. Sandra Vegeris (University of Westminster); Dr. Helen Barnes (University of Westminster); Dr. Liza Draper (University of Westminster); Dr. Sergio Salis (NatCen); Dr. Getinet Haile (The University of Nottingham)
  • International team - Professor Gerard Naegele (Technical University of Dortmund, Germany); Professor Phil Taylor (Monash University, Australia); Martin Nekola and team (Charles University, Prague); Andrea Principi and team (National Institute of Health and Science on Ageing. INCRA, Italy); Kevin Cahill and team (Boston College, Sloan Centre on Ageing and Work, USA)

For further information and to speak to Deborah Smeaton, please contact:
Sarah Evans-Toyne, Lianne Robinson or Chiara Barreca
Broadgate Mainland
E: [email protected]
T: +44(0) 20 7726 6111

About the University of Westminster:

The University of Westminster boasts a vibrant learning environment attracting more than 20,000 students from over 150 nations and we continue to invest in our future with new developments, research projects and new ideas.

We offer highly attractive practice-based courses that are independently rated as excellent, many with international recognition. Our distinguished 180-year history has meant we lead the way in many areas of research, particularly politics, media, art and design, architecture and biomedical sciences, and our position in the city of London allows us to continue to build on our close connections with leading figures and organisations in these areas as well as in the worlds of business, information technology, politics and law.

Our commitment to educating graduates for the needs of professional life attracts high quality students from within the UK and around the globe.

Internationalisation, employability and sustainability are key elements in the University of Westminster’s vision for the future and we strive to ensure the very highest standards are met and maintained.

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