Gender in home after retirement

Along with couples moving into retirement, income structure, time schedule and expectation from outside will greatly change. Gender in home will be restructured and show some interesting phenomenon. We may start from marital relationship, responsibility and decision making to feel this transition.

Marital relationship

Different employment status may cause conflict or satisfaction. When the retirement of one partner was unwanted or unexpected, the couple relationships could become strained immediately afterwards. Particular gendered roles are always related to their work roles, which will influence the gendered roles after retirement. Men and women all suffer in this transition period because they more or less tend to adhere their former occupational identities. In this process, men tended to be more concerned with the loss of status as the ‘breadwinner’ role.

In Moen et al (2001) research, married men and women who move into retirement while their spouses remain employed report the greatest marital conflict, regardless of gender. This transition could be more demanding when couples drew upon gendered expectations of employment (a male ‘breadwinner’) (Barnes & Parry, 2004). When women are still in their primary career jobs report higher marital conflict if their husbands are no longer employed (Moen, Kim & Hofmeister, 2001). While simultaneous retirement is most likely to result in mutual satisfaction (Hurd 1990; cited in Hilbourne 1999). Especially when couples have deliberately retired together, pursued share interests, and have similar expectations about their gendered roles (Barnes & Parry, 2004).


Equality in the division of domestic labor increased somehow after retirement (Kulik 2001, 2002). However, a German survey in 2015 shows that men do almost twice the amount of housework after they retire, but they are still doing far less than their wives.

And If a couple is not simultaneous retired, a husband who retired while his wife was still employed generally do more domestic tasks that usually carried out by his wife, but when the wife retire, man’s tasks would reduce again. What’s more wives caring for their husbands have retirement odds 5 times greater than women who are not caregivers, whereas husbands caring for their wives are substantially slower to retire. Caregiving responsibilities lead to increased sex role–typical employment behavior in late midlife ( Dentinger & Clarkberg, 2002).

Decision making

In gendered division of household decision-making, women are expected to decide on interior design and furnishing, while men on organizing holidays and purchasing ‘technical’ products. It is interesting to see the change of decision making which related closely to income. Men, who are retired while the wives are still working, may feel uncomfortable with a different role with his traditional gender identity especially when it comes to purchasing power which is an important factor influencing the balance of power within the couple relationship. Here is an interview:

“It’s not a normal way of working, I’m afraid. Because my wife has a good job, she would buy the washing machine, it’s as simple as that, because she’s paying for it.”

It’s the same about women who also feel differently about finances once they retired, since they would feel they no longer make an economic contribution. In these two cases we could see that how economic contribution would influence decision making before and after retirement.


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