Family histories and women’s retirement: The role of childbearing and marital experiences

Although from a life course perspective women’s retirement timing can be expected to be related to family events earlier in life, such as childbirth and divorce, empirical insights into these relationships are limited. Drawing on three-wave panel data, collected in 2001, 2006-2007, and 2011 among Dutch female older workers (N = 420) and if applicable their partners, this study examines retirement intentions and behavior in relation to past and proximal preretirement family experiences. The results show that women who postponed childbearing and still have children living at home during preretirement years intend to retire relatively late, as well as ever divorced single women, even when controlling for established correlates of retirement. Women who repartnered after a divorce do not differ from continuously married women in terms of their retirement intentions. Only few of the predictors of retirement intentions also predicted actual retirement behavior. Generally, the results highlight the importance of the notion of linked lives for understanding women’s retirement processes.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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