Why Singles Prefer to Retire Later

This study goes beyond a purely financial perspective to explain why single older workers prefer to retire later than their partnered counterparts. We aim to show how the work (i.e., its social meaning) and home domain (i.e., spousal influence) contribute to differences in retirement preferences by relationship status. Analyses were based on multiactor data collected in 2015 among older workers in the Netherlands (N ¼ 6,357) and (where applicable) their spouses. Results revealed that the social meaning of work differed by relationship status but not always as expected. In a mediation analysis, we found that the social meaning of work partically explained differences in
retirement preferences by relationship status. We also show that single workers preferred to retire later than workers with a “pulling” spouse, earlier than workers with a “pushing” spouse, and at about the same time as workers with a neutral spouse.

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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