Joint retirement process of dual-worker couples: Expectations, experience, and depressive symptoms

TitleJoint retirement process of dual-worker couples: Expectations, experience, and depressive symptoms
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsHo, J-H
AdvisorRaymo, JM
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
UniversityThe University of Wisconsin - Madison
CityMadison, WI
Call Numbernewpubs20110418_Ho.pdf
KeywordsDemographics, Employment and Labor Force, Expectations, Health Conditions and Status, Other, Retirement Planning and Satisfaction

With the continuous increase in women's labor force participation, women now comprise about half of the labor force and the majority of couples are dual-worker couples. As a consequence, a growing number of couples have two retirements to coordinate at the end of their careers. Joint retirement happens when both spouses retire within a relatively short period of time and about twenty to forty percent of dual-worker couples retire jointly. It reflects the changing context of retirement and labor force participation in later life and has implications for individual well-being, academic research, and social policy regarding retirement. In this dissertation, I explore the joint retirement process by focusing on three phases: preretirement expectations, subsequent experience, and postretirement depressive symptoms. I examine how these phases are interconnected and to what degree characteristics of husbands and wives influence joint retirement. I use seven waves of panel data from the Health and Retirement Study (1992-2004). I find that about one in four dual-worker couples expect to retire jointly. Couples with higher preferences for shared leisure and couples receiving fewer intrinsic rewards from work are more likely to expect joint retirement. I find consistency between joint retirement expectations and subsequent experience. Couples in which both spouses expected joint retirement are over four times more likely to retire jointly compared to couples in which neither spouse expected to do so. When spouses had discordant expectations, joint retirement experience reflects husbands' and wives' expectations equally. Among couples in which both spouses expected to retire jointly, those who discussed retirement often are more likely to realize their expectations. I also find that joint retirement per se is not significantly related to postretirement depressive symptoms. Rather, the associations are contingent on previous expectations. Unlike findings of previous studies on consistency between expectations and subsequent experience, individuals who expected joint retirement are more likely to have restless sleep when they realized their expectations and retire jointly, compared to when they did not retire jointly. I speculate that poor health status and unrealistic expectations regarding retirement life may be reasons for this negative link. I conclude with discussion of the implications of this dissertation for research on retirement, social policy, and retirement education.

Endnote Keywords


Endnote ID


Citation Key6338