IESOP: Independence and Economic Security of the Older Population

Abstract of Research Paper No. 28
The Economic Casualties of Retiring to Caregive
by Lynn McDonald, Peter Donohue, and Brooke Moore

This multimethod study investigated the effect of retiring to caregive on retirement income. Using the Survey of Ageing and Independence 1991, a secondary data analysis was carried out which examined the economic effects of retiring to caregive. Interviews with 17 men and women who retired to caregive were also analyzed. The results from the national data indicate that retirement for caregiving purposes has a deleterious impact on retirement income.

Workers who retire to caregive are most likely to be female, they are most likely to be on the margins of the economy, and they are the most likely to be retired very early. Persons who retired to caregive are retirees who have lower personal incomes, they are less likely to receive benefits from the public pension system and they are less likely to receive a private pension or to have income from investments -- the two factors most likely to reinforce their retirement income.

While the reasons that pushed them into retirement are complicated, all members of the smaller sample experienced a drop in their retirement income with women suffering the worst economic hardship. Part of this drop can be attributed to the work histories, typical of women, and the early age they retire to caregive. Ultimately, these processes translate into losses in terms of pension benefits in retirement and the opportunity to build up financial reserves.

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Last updated: May 7, 1998.