"I Just Couldn't Sit at Home and Do Nothing": A Qualitative Analysis of Bridge Employment Experiences
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There are significant increases in the number of people approaching retirement age and of individuals opting to return to work after retirement. Although there are many studies on the meaning of work and retirement, bridge employment is a neglected area of sociological research. In order to analyze people’s motivations for and experiences with returning to work after retiring, I conducted fifteen in-depth interviews. Respondents discussed extrinsic and intrinsic rewards that influenced their decisions to return to paid work. They also described the need for activity, which is indicative of what researchers have termed “the busy ethic.” In addition, the data indicated several gender differences in bridge employment motivations. Men and women in the study had similar obstacles in finding bridge employment, but used different strategies to find jobs. Men discussed extrinsic rewards such as identity and sense of control as motivating factors for returning to the workforce and sources of job satisfaction, whereas women emphasized intrinsic rewards such as the challenge and variety bridge employment provided.