Women’s Late Careers in Europe and the USA—Employment Chances and Transitions Between Care-Giving and Retirement

Research question/goal: 

This project explored the nexus of labour market sequences and transitions between work, family care, and retirement of women in the late career stage in international comparison. During the last decades, a sharp increase in employment rates of older women can be observed in almost all industrialized societies. However, research on women’s careers concentrates on the reconciliation of work and family in midlife, while detailed analyses on the late careers of women and respective gender differences are scarce. The project addressed this research gap and examined the interplay of individual, couple/family, workplace, and institutional factors in women’s late careers. Thematically, the project was divided into three subprojects. Utilizing international panel data (SHARE/SHARELIFE, SOEP), the first subproject applied a mainly comparative perspective on the shaping role of life course regimes, care-related penalties on women’s employment careers and retirement incomes, couples’ joint accumulation of poverty risks across the life course, and the implications of birth timing on later life health. The second subproject, funded by the Research Network on Pensions (FNA), focussed on couples’ linked life courses and gender inequality in pension incomes in Germany. Combining longitudinal administrative and survey data (SHARE-RV), we have unfolded mechanisms underlying the gendered nature of couples’ careers and their impact on later-life inequality within and between households. In 2022, the FNA approved funding for a follow-up project exploring the accumulation of pension rights and wealth over the life course. As part of a third subproject, we analysed the well-being of family caregivers during the Corona pandemic in collaboration with researchers from the German Centre of Gerontology (DZA) and the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) using data from the German Internet Panel (GIP) and German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).

Fact sheet

MZES and Research Network on Pensions (FNA)
2016 to 2022
Data Sources: 
International and national panel and life history data
Geographic Space: 
Europe, USA