The Impact of Motherhood on Women's Retirement Income: Six EU Countries

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 4:30 PM
Room: Booth 40
Oral Presentation
Sally BOULD , Gerontology Institute, University of Mass., Boston, Boston, MA
Isabella CRESPI , Dipartimento di Scienze della formazione, dei beni culturali e del turismo, University of Macerata, Macerata, Italy
Clary KREKULA , Department of Social and Psychological Studies, Karlstads Universitet, Karlstad, Sweden
Gunther SCHMAUS , CEPS, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg
Roxana ELETA-DE FILIPPIS , Sociology, Le Havre University, Le Raincy, France
Claire GAVRAY , la Faculté de Psychologie et des Sciences de l'Education, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium
Concern with equity and adequacy in retirement income for men and women is a serious issue, especially due to the longer life expectancy of women in Europe and North America.  Women not only face a higher risk of widowhood, but also the incidence of divorce has become greater.   Older women, especially, are at risk of living in a single person household, a household that does not have the economies of scale of a two-person household. 

    Important factors in retirement economic security and equity are linked to the work life of women in comparison with men.   Under current conditions women are likely to have not only a less stable work life but also more limited access to better pensions linked to a stable work life.   The most important factor impacting a women’s work life is motherhood in contrast to fathers who typically have a more stable work-life than non-fathers.

    Initial results indicate that where there is greater protection for mothers to sustain their work-force activity to contribute to pensions systems during maternity leave or leave to caregiving their pensions will be more similar to those of men.  This is the case of Sweden where gender equity and gender mainstreaming have been a long established as policy goal.   In Germany, however, mothers typically drop out of the workforce and have very limited access to pensions based on their own workforce history.  In Spain and Italy where mothers of this generation typically did not work, widows will be more at risk although these widows may benefit, from living arrangements with adult children which can protect them from poverty.  The situation in France and Belgium will also be analyzed.

    The data for this paper come from SHARE (Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe) which allows a detailed analysis of the six contries.