Retirement sequences of older Americans: Moderately destandardized and highly stratified across gender, class, and race.

TitleRetirement sequences of older Americans: Moderately destandardized and highly stratified across gender, class, and race.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsCalvo, E, Madero-Cabib, I, Staudinger, UM
ISSN Number1758-5341
KeywordsGender Differences, Racial/ethnic differences, Retirement Planning and Satisfaction, Women and Minorities

Purpose of the Study: A destandardization of labor-force patterns revolving around retirement has been observed in recent literature. It is unclear, however, to which degree and of which kind. This study looked at sequences rather than individual statuses or transitions and argued that differentiating older Americans' retirement sequences by type, order, and timing and considering gender, class, and race differences yields a less destandardized picture.

Design and Methods: Sequence analysis was employed to analyze panel data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) for 7,881 individuals observed 6 consecutive times between ages 60-61 and 70-71.

Results: As expected, types of retirement sequences were identified that cannot be subsumed under the conventional model of complete retirement from full-time employment around age 65. However, these retirement sequences were not entirely destandardized, as some irreversibility and age-grading persisted. Further, the degree of destandardization varied along gender, class, and race. Unconventional sequences were archetypal for middle-level educated individuals and Blacks. Also, sequences for women and individuals with lower education showed more unemployment and part-time jobs, and less age-grading.

Implications: A sequence-analytic approach that models group differences uncovers misjudgments about the degree of destandardization of retirement sequences. When a continuous process is represented as individual transitions, the overall pattern of retirement sequences gets lost and appears destandardized. These patterns get further complicated by differences in social structures by gender, class, and race in ways that seem to reproduce advantages that men, more highly educated individuals, and Whites enjoy in numerous areas over the life course.

User Guide Notes

Alternate JournalGerontologist
Citation Key9117
PubMed ID28586409