• labour force participation;
  • early retirement;
  • old age benefit;
  • disability benefit;
  • unemployment;
  • the Netherlands;
  • OECD


Early retirement schemes and disability insurance in the Netherlands have undergone several reforms in recent decades. The reforms have increased incentives for older workers to continue working and have decreased the roles of “substitute pathways” into retirement. This article gives an overview of the reforms and, using administrative data for workers in the health care sector, tests a number of hypotheses about the labour market participation of older workers. The results offer two main findings: i) that the Dutch reforms have indeed been effective, as the labour force participation rate of older workers has increased; and ii) the concept of “substitute pathways” has become less relevant as the use of disability insurance has been closed off as an exit route to early retirement. Nevertheless, caution is required before generalizing the implications of these Dutch findings to other OECD countries.