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Gender roles and employment pathways of older women and men in England

Lookup NU author(s): Dr David Lain



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


In the context of population ageing, the UK government is encouraging people to work longer and delay retirement and it is claimed that many people now make ‘gradual’ transitions from full-time to part-time work to retirement. Part-time employment in older age may, however, be largely due to women working part-time before older age, as per a UK ‘modified male breadwinner’ model. This article therefore separately examines the extent to which men and women make transitions into part-time work in older age, and whether such transitions are influenced by marital status. Following older men and women over a ten-year period using the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, this article presents sequence, cluster, and multinomial logistic regression analyses. Little evidence is found for people moving into part-time work in older age. Typically, women did not work at all or they worked part-time (with some remaining in part-time work and some retiring/exiting from this activity). Consistent with a ‘modified male breadwinner’ logic, marriage was positively related to the likelihood of women belonging to typically ‘female employment pathway clusters’, which mostly consist of part-time work or not being employed. Men were mostly working full-time regardless of marital status. Attempts to extend working lives among older women are therefore likely to be complicated by the influence of traditional gender roles on employment.

Publication metadata

Author(s): van der Horst M, Lain D, Vickerstaff S, Clark C, Baumberg Geiger B

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: SAGE Open

Year: 2017

Volume: 7

Issue: 4

Pages: 1-17

Online publication date: 06/12/2017

Acceptance date: 28/09/2017

Date deposited: 28/09/2017

ISSN (electronic): 2158-2440

Publisher: Sage


DOI: 10.1177/2158244017742690


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