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Work, Aging & Retirement

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Work capacity evaluation, Age and employment, Quality of work life, Older people -- Employment


There is a growing literature investigating aging and work due to increasing numbers of older working adults. One emerging research line has focused on work ability (WA), or workers’ functional capacity to meet work demands, including the antecedents of WA and how WA affects work attitudes, performance, and retirement. Our article provides the first comprehensive multidisciplinary (e.g., medicine, psychology, management) review of the WA literature to date. In our review, we discuss the evolution and limitations of WA measurement and conceptualization that could limit future advancements in WA research, integrate WA with organizational and lifespan development theories, synthesize the extant WA literature using the job demands and resources model as an organizing framework, describe interventions focused on promoting and maintaining WA, and provide recommendations for future WA research. This review aims to offer greater understanding of how WA should be situated within the workplace literature and the processes by which workers determine their ability to continue working over their lifespan, ultimately leading to the development of workplace interventions and policies to address these profound changes in workforce demographics.


This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Work, Aging & Retirement following peer review. The version of record Cadiz, D. M., Brady, G., Rineer, J. R., & Truxillo, D. M. (2019). A Review and Synthesis of the Work Ability Literature. Work, Aging & Retirement, 5(1), 114–138 is available online at:



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