Baby boomer retirement signals gender power shift

Higher pension coverage gives boomer women more power in the family unit

Better pensions are giving baby boomer women more power in the family unit after they retire, according to the associate director general of the analytical studies branch of Statistics Canada.

A new Statistics Canada book, New Frontiers of Research on Retirement, reveals these women, the first to have participated in the labour force for the majority of their adult lives, will retire with far higher levels of pension coverage.

As such, husbands will increasingly have to accommodate their wives wishes in the decision-making process, added Leroy Stone.

Besides the power shift, the book reveals other retirement-related gender difference.

Household and family matters tend to influence a woman’s decision to retire much more than they do a man’s. In 2002, 12 per cent of women retired to take care of a family member, while only six per cent of men did the same.

Once women begin the transition from paid work to retirement, they complete it much more quickly than men and are more likely than men to retire from paid work when they experience an involuntary job change.

Women are also more likely to experience involuntary retirement than men. Among women who began their transition to retirement in or after 1996, 10 per cent had retired involuntarily by the end of 2001, almost double the figure for men at six per cent.

A woman's relative age to her spouse also affects when she decides to retire. In 2002, 48 per cent of women expected to retire at the same time as their spouse but this number increased to 60 per cent if they were the same age as their spouse and fell to 39 per cent if they were five to nine years younger than their spouse.

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