WHERL: Work, Health, Retirement and the Lifecourse

WHERL is an interdisciplinary consortium funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Medical Research Council under the Lifelong Health and Wellbeing programme, Extending Working Lives.

The project is led by Professor Karen Glaser at the Institute of Gerontology at King’s College London, with other universities and partners including The University of Manchester; University College London; IOPPN at King’s College London; the University of Toronto; the Pensions Policy Institute; Age UK; and the Department for Work and Pensions.

This project examines a crucial question: how inequalities across the life course relate to paid work in later life in the UK. This issue is of growing importance since governments across the world are rapidly extending the working lives of older adults through the postponement of State Pension Age (SPA) and other measures. These policy reforms affect millions of people, yet their implications are unknown. Do these policies harm, benefit or have little effect on the population? To answer this, we need to understand the lifelong drivers affecting the complex relationship between paid work in later life, health and wellbeing.

Areas of research

Using a wide variety of complex large scale datasets, our interdisciplinary team will be tackling projects that cover three major areas:

  1. A comprehensive assessment of lifecourse determinants and consequences for health and wellbeing of working up to and beyond SPA.
  2. An evaluation of whether (and how) these relationships have changed for different cohorts and over time.
  3. Modelling of the financial consequences of working up to and beyond SPA for those with different lifecourse trajectories.

Principal Investigator

  • Professor Karen Glaser, King’s College London.


  • Professor Debora Price, The University of Manchester.
  • Dr Laurie Corna, King’s College London.
  • Professor Peggy McDonough, University of Toronto.
  • Dr Diana Worts, University of Toronto.
  • Professor Amanda Sacker, University College London.
  • Professor Robert Stewart, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London.
  • Mr Chris Curry, Pensions Policy Institute.


Cross-Research Council (ESRC/MRC) Lifelong Health and Wellbeing Programme, February 2014 - June 2017.


Partner organisation

Age UK and Department for Work and Pensions.

Subjects involved

Sociology, Epidemiology, Demography, Psychiatry, Economics, Gerontology, Social Policy.

More information