Do men and women have different views on retirement?

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Just imagine you were asked the question in one of those much maligned ‘focus groups’ – what are the keywords that describe your life after completing your primary career? What words would you use?

Notice the question does not refer to ‘retirement’ but rather the concept of the end of your primary career in order to avoid tainting the question with how retirement is traditionally marketed.

In a recent survey of some 10,000 people, this question was asked by a large American research organisation AgeLab. The responses between the male and female genders were interesting.

Men used such words as:

  • ‘Retirement’
  • ‘Relax’
  • ‘Good’
  • ‘Hobbies’
  • ‘Travel’

Women, on the other hand used:

  • ‘Fulfilled’
  • ‘Peace’
  • ‘Calm’
  • ‘Accomplished’
  • ‘Family’

What did they conclude from the broad results of this survey:

  • Women are more ‘nuanced’ about their aspirations
  • Women see this life after work stage as a time most likely for caring whereas men are more leisure focused
  • Women see themselves providing intimate care for their parents such as bathing, toileting and dressing
  • Men however are happy to change their parents’ light bulbs and clean their gutters

In some ways my instincts tell me there is nothing fundamentally new in the findings and they may well be a reflection, and continuation of, the respective traditional roles of men and women in their working lives. Nevertheless, if the conclusions are accurate, and if, as is the case, young retirees will be called on more and more to care for parents, men may well have to change their aspirations.

So, ask yourself the question and, then, even better, share your answers with your spouse or partner – your parents will no doubt also be interested in the answers.

Brian Herd

Recognised as one of the leading experts in Australia on elder law, aged care, retirement, estate planning and disability and a regular author, broadcaster and popular presenter on many elder law subjects and issues.