Linked lives, linked retirement? Relative income differences within couples and gendered retirement decisions in Europe
2021, Bertogg, Ariane, Strauß, Susanne, Vandecasteele, Leen
Our article investigates the role of relative income distributions within couples for individuals’ retirement risks. It addresses the following questions: How does the share someone provides to the couple income affect that person’s retirement decision? What gender differences do we observe and what contextual factors can explain country differences? Our multilevel analyses draw on data from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) study (2010–2016), comparing 26 countries. The results show that female main earners transition to retirement earlier than female secondary earners as they approach the official retirement age. This effect is even stronger in countries with more traditional gender norms. The opposite pattern is found for men, whereby male secondary earners retire earlier than male main earners in more gender traditional societies. We explain this finding on the basis of doing gender theories, which predict that gender-atypical behaviour in one area of life is compensated by traditional gender behaviour in other areas, especially in contexts with traditional gender norms. A further finding relates to the generosity of the country’s pension replacement rate, which shows to be a factor facilitating retirement especially for those with an equal earning partner.