Gender, employment, and retirement quality: a life course approach to the differential experiences of men and women

J Occup Health Psychol. 1998 Jan;3(1):44-64.


Using a life course perspective in integrating 2 theories of retirement satisfaction--role theory and continuity theory--this study draws on a sample of retired men (n = 244) and women (n = 214), ages 50-72, to investigate factors contributing to the quality of their retirement experience. Overall, we find that men report greater retirement satisfaction than women, although the difference is small. For women, increased retirement quality is associated with good health, a continuous career (fewer years spent in part-time employment), an early retirement (though not earlier than anticipated), and a good postretirement income. For men, the key correlates with retirement quality are good health, an enjoyable preretirement job, low work-role salience, substantial preretirement planning, and retiring for internally motivated reasons (e.g., to do other things). These results underscore the importance of a life course focus on gendered pathways to and through life transitions such as retirement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Quality of Life*
  • Retirement / psychology*