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A gendered approach to workforce participation patterns over the life course for an Australian baby boom cohort

Population ageing and its future implications for governments and individuals have been central to much policy debate and research targeted to retain older people in the workforce. This study identified workforce participation patterns across the adult life course for women and men entering later life, and explored the influences of various early and adult life socio-demographic circumstances. Data were collected from 1261 men and women aged 60 to 64 years in the Life History and Health (LHH) Survey (a sub-study of the Sax Institute's 45 and Up Study, Australia) in 2010–11. LHH provides detailed information on personal histories of paid work, socio-economic resources from childhood (number of books and father's occupation) and adult life factors such as educational attainment, marital histories, childcare and informal caring. Latent class analysis (LCA) was undertaken to identify patterns of workforce participation for participants across their adult life. Significant gender differences were confirmed. Further analysis (LCA with covariates) showed that women who reported having books during childhood, and those who had post-school qualification, were more likely to have mostly been in paid work and less likely to have not been in paid work; while ever partnered women had significantly higher odds of increasing part time work over time. Men who had reported ever having had informal caring activities were likely to have had decreasing participation in paid work over time, and were highly likely to be not in paid work after 55 years. Ever partnered status was protective for being in paid work for men. These findings indicate the need for gender-specific policies and strategies to enable continued workforce participation throughout adult life and into later working years, particularly for people who had fewer social or economic opportunities earlier in life.

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Journal Of Vocational Behavior

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