Women’s retirement intentions and behavior: The role of childbearing and marital histories

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 pre-retirement years have the intention to retire relatively late. For retirement behavior, this effect was not statistically significant. Ever divorced single women both intend to and actually retire later than continuously married women. Repartnering after a divorce seems to offset the negative divorce effect: retirement timing intentions and behavior of repartnered women did not differ from continuously married women. Also the pre-retirement financial, health, and work opportunity structure—factors that are often central in studies among men—did play an explanatory role. Women who have a less beneficial preretirement financial situation, a better health situation, and challenging work intend to and actually retire relatively late.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is een denktank en kennisnetwerk. Netspar is gericht op een goed geïnformeerd pensioendebat.


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