Study: Women More Responsive to Phased Retirement

January 13, 2005 ( - The latest potential battle of the sexes is apparently in how differently men and women respond to work-life programs that can help convince them to delay full retirement, according to a new Watson Wyatt analysis.

A Watson Wyatt news release said the research found that eldercare assistance programs – which help workers identify and evaluate services needed to care for elderly relatives – push off men’s average retirement age by eight months, versus just 30 days for women. Phased retirement programs – which allow employees to switch to a part-time or flexible work schedule – stretch women’s average retirement age by 21 months, versus five months for men.

“Men tend to be ‘remote’ caregivers who provide financial support rather than personal care, so eldercare assistance programs better meet their needs,” said Valerie Paganelli, a Watson Wyatt senior retirement consultant, in the news release. “Women, on the other hand, are more likely than men to provide ‘hands-on’ personal care services. The flexibility offered by phased retirement programs often can address women’s caregiving needs more effectively than eldercare assistance programs can.”

Watson Wyatt’s analysis looked at the retirement patterns of 37,000 workers at large and medium-sized firms. Twenty-seven percent of surveyed employers offer eldercare assistance, while 16% include a phased retirement program in their benefits program.

“Employees participate in phased retirement programs for the combination of leisure time, income and enjoyment of work that is not offered by full-time retirement,” said Paganelli. “But, with the forthcoming labor shortage, work-life programs will become increasingly important tools for employers looking to hang on to much-needed older workers. Those that can keep these workers will be in a much better competitive position.”