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Old couples retire together, study shows

Posted June 12, 2014
Picture: Naples ─ Old Couple. Year: 1890. Source:  Wikimedia Commons

Picture: Naples ─ Old Couple. Year: 1890. Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to the recent study people tend to retire together with their lifetime partners even when their retirement is involuntary. This result was found during exploration which was conducted by German scientists Jonas Radl and Ralf K. Himmelreicher. They investigated how marital status influences withdrawal age of Germans and Spaniards.

The researchers convincingly show that family situation has significant effect on the retirement age of elderly people in Germany. “As expected, married women whose husbands are retired exhibit a much higher retirement propensity than married women with working husbands,” the sociologists comment. In addition, German males are influenced by the employment status of their wives.

Similar patterns are observed in Spain. Interestingly, Spanish husbands are affected stronger than their spouses. “The reported hazard ratios indicate a 53.2% increase in retirement probabilities for men but only a 22.7% increase for women,” the scientists report.

The sociologists found some evidence that divorced women tend to retire later than married ones in Germany. “This difference may be attributed to the economic costs of divorce that produce an incentive to stay on the job until a later age,” they reported. Following the same economic logic, Spanish woman should retire even later than their German counterparts. Most of the financial support should be paid via alimony (spousal support) in Spain. However, they are pretty often not paid. Consequently, Spanish women have stronger incentives to work longer than German ones. Surprisingly, this is not the case. The researchers state that contrary to prior expectations, however, divorce yields no significant effect on women’s retirement behavior in Spain.

It is often claimed that co-retirement should not occur, when one of the partners should end his or her career involuntarily. Such withdrawal from the job market encompasses cases when people are off to pension, because they face work-related or health-related problems. Radl and Himmelreicher conjectured that involuntary retreat to the pension should not be related to the family context.

However, the data analysis falsifies this hypothesis. “The results show that spousal labor market participation plays a large role in work-exit transitions, even when retirement is involuntary. This finding questions the widespread belief that co-retirement is exclusively due to preference for joint retirement shared among spouses,” the scientist conclude.

Article: Radl J. and Himmelreicher R. K., 2014, The Influence of Marital Status and Spousal Employment on Retirement Behavior in Germany and Spain, Research on Aging, 36 (4), source link.

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