However, the study found, when men are caregivers, they are slower to retire than those who are not taking care of their wives.
"How much caregiving influences whether an adult in late midlife will retire soon or not, however, largely depends on the strength of the relationship between the worker and the person needing caregiving," explains Marin Clarkberg, an assistant professor of sociology at Cornell and one of the co-authors of the new study. "Caring for a spouse has the strongest -- and in the case of men, the only significant -- impact on shaping retirement timing."
The study, which is based on the master's thesis of co-author Emma Dentinger, a Cornell doctoral candidate, used data from 763 employees and retirees, ages 50 to 72, from the 1994-95 wave of the Cornell Retirement and Well-Being Study. The sample was randomly selected from six large employers in metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas of upstate New York. The study is published in the October issue on care and kinship of The Journal of Family Issues (Vol. 23:7, pp. 857-879).
"In our rapidly aging society, as much as 80 percent of care to elderly and disabled Americans is performed by families," says Dentinger. "We sought to determine how gender and the type of informal caregiving that late midlife workers provide influence the timing of retirement."
The researchers found that caring for a spouse had a far more significant effect on a woman's decision to retire than caregiving for anyone else, including parents. Indeed, of the respondents, almost half the women and slightly fewer men were most likely to be caring for or had cared for elderly parents. In general, the closer the relationship between the caregiver and the person being cared for, the g
Contact: Susan S. Lang
Cornell University News Service