Won' t you stay just a little bit longer? A discrete choice experiment of UK doctors’ preferences for delaying retirement

Anne Cleland Jennifer*, Terry Porteous, Ejebu Ourega-Zoé, Mandy Ryan, Diane Skåtun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Introduction and aims
Health systems around the world face difficulties retaining their workforce, which is exacerbated by the early retirement of experienced clinicians. This study aims to determine how to incentivise doctors to delay their retirement.
We used a discrete choice experiment to estimate the relative importance of job characteristics in doctors’ willingness to delay retirement, and the number of extra years they were willing to delay retirement when job characteristics improved. 2885 British Medical Association members aged between 50 and 70 years, registered with the General Medical Council, practising in Scotland (in
December 2019), and who had not started to draw a pension were invited. We compared the preferences of hospital doctors (HDs) and general practitioners (GPs).
The response rate was 27.4% (n=788). The number of extra years expected to work was the most important job characteristic for both respondents, followed by work intensity for GPs, whereas working hours and on-call were more important for HDs. Personalised working conditions and pension taxation were the least important characteristics for both groups. Setting all characteristics
to their BEST levels, GPs would be willing to delay retirement by 4 years and HDs by 7 years.
Characteristics related to the job rather than pension could have the greatest impact on delaying retirement among clinicians.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-68
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Policy
Issue number1
Early online date22 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The survey instrument and all available data can be obtained by contacting the corresponding author (JC). Our thanks to those friends and colleagues whose discussions about retirement, lifetime allowances and pensions ceilings were the motivation for this study. Thanks to all those who participated in qualitative interviews and in developing, piloting and completing the survey. Thanks also go to BMA Scotland for the distribution of invitations. This study was funded by a grant from the University of Aberdeen Development Trust (UOA Ref: RG14022), and the qualitative data collection (reported separately) was supported by funding from BMA Scotland (UOA Ref: RG14434).


  • Discrete choice experiment
  • Doctors
  • Retirement
  • Workforce retention


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