Gender Roles and Employment Pathways of Older Women and Men in England

Mariska van der Horst, David Lain, Sarah Vickerstaff, Charlotte Clark, Ben Baumberg Geiger

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


© The Author(s) 2017. In the context of population aging, the U.K. government is encouraging people to work longer and delay retirement, and it is claimed that many people now make “gradual” transitions from full-time to part-time work to retirement. Part-time employment in older age may, however, be largely due to women working part-time before older age, as per a U.K. “modified male breadwinner” model. This article therefore separately examines the extent to which men and women make transitions into part-time work in older age, and whether such transitions are influenced by marital status. Following older men and women over a 10-year period using the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, this article presents sequence, cluster, and multinomial logistic regression analyses. Little evidence is found for people moving into part-time work in older age. Typically, women did not work at all or they worked part-time (with some remaining in part-time work and some retiring/exiting from this activity). Consistent with a “modified male breadwinner” logic, marriage was positively related to the likelihood of women belonging to typically “female employment pathway clusters,” which mostly consist of part-time work or not being employed. Men were mostly working full-time regardless of marital status. Attempts to extend working lives among older women are therefore likely to be complicated by the influence of traditional gender roles on employment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSage Open
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • extended working lives
  • gender differences
  • gender roles
  • sequence analysis
  • the United Kingdom


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