Published Papers - Abstract 229

Warner-Smith P, Everingham C & Ford J. Mid-age women's experiences of work and expectations of retirement. Just Policy, 2006; 40: 45-53

The broad aim of this paper is to investigate what work and retirement mean for middle-aged women and to consider the implications of their experiences for government policy, especially given current concerns about workforce maintenance in the face of population ageing.The data used in the paper are drawn from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH – also known as Women’s Health Australia). This large longitudinal study includes three age cohorts of women, and it is information from four surveys of the mid-age cohort who were aged 45-50 when they were first surveyed in 1996 which is discussed here.We find that many women in their fifties are maintaining, if not increasing, their hours of paid work, and that employment is generally associated with better health for this age group, particularly when they are working the hours they prefer. Retirement appears to be a problematic concept for these women, even as they head towards their sixties, and many do not have a clear picture of when they might want to retire. However, it seems that health, both their own and that of family members, is likely to be a major influence in their decision to retire, and may be even stronger than financial factors.