In this article we investigate whether early retirement patterns vary between countries with distinct early retirement systems. By choosing countries that differ not only with respect to the coverage and generosity of publicly provided pensions but also with respect to the extent to which the state interferes in the non-public pillars of pension provision, we analyse to what extent such issues have an effect on individual early retirement behaviour. Selectivity effects are expected to be stronger in countries with highly fragmented public systems or private early retirement schemes. By pursuing a shift to more private pension provisions, governments might unintentionally create more inequality in early retirement opportunities among the population. For the analysis we use longitudinal data, i.e. British Household Panel Study (BHPS) 19912004 (the United Kingdom), the German Socia-Economic Panel (GSOEP) 19902005 (Germany, and the Socia-Economics Panel (SEP) 19902001 (Netherlands) and a discrete-time competing-risks model. The results suggest that pursuing a shift from public to private early retirement schemes can lower the incidence of early retirement. Yet, at the same time, early retirement can get more selective in that only the higher paid are able to afford it.