In western societies, understanding the labor-force participation determinants of seniors
(i.e. workers aged 50+) or late careers
is becoming increasingly important, notably due to different policy reforms aimed at reversing early retirement trends and delaying retirement age. To date, little is known about the determinants of women’s extended working lives, which depend both on factors external to the labor market (partner’s retirement age, family care needs, particularly with respect to grand-parenting) and on their personal employment history and current working conditions. Moreover, the proportion of women aged 50+ in employment varies significantly between countries with different welfare state regimes. In conservative-oriented countries, which often provide a low institutional support for mothers’ paid employment, women are likely to exit the labor market more rapidly than their male counterparts. On the other hand, in liberal-oriented countries with a (modified) male-breadwinner culture, women may return to work (often part-time) at 50+ following a family-related career-break. However, we also know that, within a given macro-level welfare context, women’s education levels determine to a large extent their later-life employment patterns, unemployment rates and working conditions.
Based on a harmonized pooled-country dataset from four exceptionally rich panel surveys (HRS, ELSA, SHARE, and EPS) we use sequence analyses to study the employment careers of women aged 50-60 years in the following 12 countries characterized by different welfare regimes: Austria, Belgium, Chile, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. The main aim of this research is to analyze the combined influence of welfare regimes and women’s education levels on their employment rates and patterns in later life. Preliminary results in some of the mentioned countries indicate that higher educated women show a strong attachment to the labor force during late careers regardless the welfare state context to which they belong.