Women’s Work Histories and Couple Retirement in Germany

Laura Konzelmann , Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB)

The growing share of older dual-earner couples reveals the rising potential for joint retirement and underlines the importance of dealing with couple retirement. This contribution investigates linkages between early employment patterns and couple retirement. I emphasize the life course by recognizing that later-life decisions are affected by early-life circumstances and acknowledge the interrelation between the work and family domain. Later-life circumstances complete the picture of retirement and might even alter early-life effects. Furthermore, attention is paid to mutual cross-spousal effects as expressed in the concept of “linked lives”. Analyses are based on multi-actor data elicited in a German CATI-design panel study that centers on work/retirement transitions of people born in the 1940s/1950s in which both partners were asked to participate in the survey. The project is designed to gain insights into the origins, circumstances and dynamics of couple retirement patterns. Analysing work-family employment patterns is almost tantamount to analysing female employment orientation because men’s employment rates are generally higher than women’s and are usually only to a little extent (if at all) affected by parenthood. Thus, couples are classified according to her employment history. Conditional on her early work commitment I examine the following hypotheses based on the presumption that both partners enjoy spending time together: Her strong work commitment is associated with an increased likelihood of performing a joint retirement transition. In contrast, her rather low work commitment may impede joint retirement because she cannot afford retiring and hence might work longer to make up for low pension entitlements.

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 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course