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‘Since I retired, I can take things as they come. For example, the laundry’: gender, class and freedom in retirement in Switzerland

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 February 2017

MARION REPETTI
Affiliation:
Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
TONI CALASANTI*
Affiliation:
Department of Sociology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, USA.
*
Address for correspondence: Toni Calasanti, Department of Sociology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA E-mail: toni@vt.edu

Abstract

Population ageing has led many countries to be concerned about the ‘economic burden’ of elders, and several have adopted the active ageing paradigm to reform policy. However, gender differences that moderate the effect of active ageing have been little considered. As in other nations in the European Union, Swiss federal authorities use the active ageing paradigm to reshape ageing policies, including the provision of incentives to seniors to remain in the labour market. At the same time, many recent and proposed changes draw on the assumption of gender equality, even though actual parity has not yet been demonstrated. We know little about how gender shapes retirement in Switzerland, other than in relation to financial inequality between women and men. Qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews conducted with Swiss retirees (N = 15) shows how men and women describe this time of life differently. All respondents characterised retirement as a time of freedom; but the meaning of such freedom diverged for men and women, reflecting the gender division of labour, which is further shaped by class. We discuss the implications of this difference for the gendered consequences of active ageing policies.

Type
Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

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