Supporting Australian Women’s Working Lives Beyond ‘Retirement’

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Elizabeth BROOKE, The University of Melbourne, Australia
The paper examines contextual factors that support a choice made by older Australian women to work on after formal retirement. It analyses the interactions between public policies and working life arrangements that enable the boundaries of formal retirement to be traversed. Definitions of working past retirement are initially explored, and Australian empirical data on ‘post-retirement’ employment are presented. Research questions addressed in the paper focus on individual resources which assist in the promotion of career trajectories beyond formal retirement. The paper also addresses the question of whether and how national policies contribute to or contest cumulative inequalities created by working beyond retirement. At the micro-level, the paper explores how working lives and retirement interactions are negotiated within individual identities. Interlinked public policies, organisational and identity issues supporting ‘post-retirement’ work are examined. The methods employed in the paper interweave qualitative case study data based on 30 interviews with women engaged in ‘post-retirement’ work and Australian national quantitative data. Ultimately the paper draws inferences relating to inequalities in labour markets structuring women’s earlier career trajectories which flow on into post retirement work. These conclusions further expose the reality of the Australian government’s advocacy of extending working lives until 70 and beyond, founded in the individualisation of risk. Recommendations are centered on the necessity for multi-level resources which traverse the boundaries constraining the extension of Australian women’s working lives beyond ‘retirement’.