Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Family Ties: Women's Work and Family Histories and their Association with Incomes in Later Life in the UK

  • TOM SEFTON (a1), MARIA EVANDROU (a2) and JANE FALKINGHAM (a3)

Abstract

This article examines the relationship between the family and work histories of older women and their personal incomes in later life, using retrospective data from the first 15 waves of the British Household Panel Survey. The association between women's family histories and their incomes later in life are relatively weak, explaining only a small proportion of the overall variation in older women's incomes. Divorce, early widowhood and re-marriage are not associated with any significant differences in older women's incomes, while motherhood is only associated with a small reduction in incomes later in life. While there are significant differences in the work histories of older women with different family histories, this translates into relatively small differences in their personal incomes, because the types of employment career pursued by most women are not associated with significantly higher retirement incomes and because public transfers dampen work history-related differentials, especially for widows. On the one hand, this could be seen as a positive finding in that the ‘pension penalty’ associated with life-course events such as motherhood and divorce is not as severe as often anticipated. On the other hand, the main reason for this is that the pension returns to working longer are relatively low, particularly for women with few qualifications. The analysis suggests that women retiring over the next two decades are unlikely to benefit significantly from the additional years they have spent in employment, because most of this increase has been in part-time employment. The article highlights the tensions between two objectives: rewarding work, and protecting the most vulnerable, such as carers, long-term disabled and unemployed. Resolving this dilemma involves moving away from a close association between pension entitlements and work history and towards universal entitlement based on a citizen's pension.

Copyright

Corresponding author

References

Hide All
Age Concern (2006), Age Concern's response to the Pensions White Paper ‘Security in retirement: towards a new pensions system’, Ref: 1806, Age Concern, London.
Bardasi, E. and Jenkins, J. (2002), Income in Later Life: Work History Matters, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Bardasi, E. and Jenkins, J. (2004), The Gender Gap in Private Pensions, ISER Working Paper 2004–29, Colchester: Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Essex.
Department for Work and Pensions [DWP] (2005), Women and Pensions: The Evidence, London: DWP.
Department for Work and Pensions [DWP] (2006a), Security in Retirement: Towards a New Pensions System, London: DWP.
Department for Work and Pensions [DWP] (2006b), Personal Accounts: A New Way to Save, London: DWP.
Disney, R., Grundy, E. and Johnson, P. (1997), The Dynamics of Retirement: Analyses of the Retirement Surveys, DSS Research Report No. 72, London: The Stationery Office.
Falkingham, J. and Rake, K. (2001), ‘Modelling the gender impact of British pension reforms’, in Ginn, J. and Arber, S. (eds.), Women and Pensions, Buckingham: Open University Press.
Fawcett Society (2006), Fawcett Society response to the Pensions White Paper ‘Security in retirement: towards a new pensions system’, Fawcett Society, London.
Ginn, J. (2000), ‘Pension myth-selling and gender’, Radical Statistics, 74: Spring.
Ginn, J. (2003), Gender, Pensions and the Lifecourse: How Pensions Need to Adapt to Changing Family Forms, Bristol: Policy Press.
Ginn, J. and Arber, S. (2002), ‘Degrees of freedom: can graduate women avoid the motherhood gap in pensions?’, Sociological Research on-line, www.socresonline.org.uk/7/2/
Ginn, J., Street, D. and Arber, S. (2001), ‘Cross-national trends in women's work’, in Ginn, J., Street, D. and Arber, S. (eds.), Women, Work and Pensions, Buckingham: Open University Press, pp. 1130.
Halpin, B. (1997), Unified BHPS Work–Life Histories: Combining Multiple Sources into a User-Friendly Format, Technical Paper 13, ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change, Colchester: University of Essex.
Halpin, B. (2000), BHPS Work–Life History Files, Version 2, Colchester: ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change, Colchester: University of Essex.
Land, H. (1994), ‘The demise of the male breadwinner – in practice but not in theory: a challenge for social security systems’, in Baldwin, S. and Falkingham, J. (eds.), Social Security and Social Change: New Challenges to the Beveridge Model, Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf.
Manning, A. and Petrongolo, B. (2004), ‘The part-time pay penalty’, Report to the Women and Equality Unit, DTI.
McKay, S., Heaver, C. and Walker, R. (1999), Building Up Pension Rights, Department of Social Security Research Report No. 114, Leeds: Corporate Document Services.
Pensions Commission (2004), Pensions: Challenges and Choices, The First Report of the Pensions Commission, Norwich: The Stationery Office.
Pensions Commission (2005), A New Pensions Settlement for the Twenty First Century, The Second Report of the Pensions Commission, Norwich: The Stationery Office.
Pensions Policy Institute [PPI] (2009), The Pensions Primer, updated June 2009, London: PPI, online at https://www.pensionspolicyinstitute.org.uk/uploadeddocuments/Primer/2009/Primer_Updated_-_June09.pdf
Pronzato, C. (2007), ‘British Household Panel Survey Consolidated Marital, Cohabitation and Fertility Histories, 1991–2006’ [computer file], 2nd edition, University of Essex, Institute for Social and Economic Research [original data producer(s)], Colchester, Essex, UK Data Archive [distributor], November 2007, SN: 5629.
Rake, K. with Davies, H., Joshi, H. and Alami, R. (2000), Women's Incomes over the Lifetime, A Report to the Women's Unit, Cabinet Office, London: HMSO.
Sefton, T., Evandrou, M. and Falkingham, J. (2008), Women's Work and Family Histories and their Association with Incomes in Later Life in the UK, CASE Paper 135, London: Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE), London School of Economics.
Walker, R., Heaver, C. and McKay, S. (2000), Building Up Pension Rights, DWP Research Report No. 114, London: Department for Work and Pensions.
Warren, T. (2003), ‘A privileged pole? Diversity in women's pay, pensions and wealth in Britain’, Gender, Work and Organisation, 10: 5, 605–28.

Family Ties: Women's Work and Family Histories and their Association with Incomes in Later Life in the UK

  • TOM SEFTON (a1), MARIA EVANDROU (a2) and JANE FALKINGHAM (a3)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed