Redefining retirement, towards an inclusive model of women's retirement

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Luffman, Jacqueline J.
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Despite general agreement about the increasing diversity of pathways into retirement, there is less understanding about the role of gender and social class in this process. Women's involvement in the family has been viewed as taking precedence over their participation in the paid labour force and hence their retirement has not been adequately documented. This project addresses a number of serious gaps in our knowledge of retirement. Firstly, most research has been limited to describing the consequences of retirement for males. The separation of work and family spheres constitutes the theoretical basis of much early research on retirement. Using socialist-feminist, political economy and life course theory, this project aims to conduct a theoretically integrated model of women's retirement. The conceptual model tested examined the dynamics between work and family characteristics and assessed how these affected women's retirement status. Secondly, the operational definition of retirement remains an unsettled issue in aging. The author assigned four retirement measures in addition to the conceptual model to address this issue. To evaluate the research questions, logistic regression procedures were employed with a sample of 2447 women, 55 and over, from the 1994 Statistics Canada General Social Survey Cycle 9. The results indicate that much of the indeteminacy in retirement definitions can be traced to the differences associated with each criterion. Depending on the measure used, a number of socio-economic and family variables show significance. The findings presented confirm the importance of exploring family and work career linkages among retired women. Furthermore, the assessment of multiple measures of retirement reinforces the need for stronger conceptualizations of work and retirement.