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Facing the Gender Gap in Aging: Italian Women’s Pension in the European Context


  • Maria Letizia Zanier

    () (Department of Political Science, Communication and International Relations, University of Macerata, Via Don Minzoni, 22/A–62100 Macerata, Italy
    These authors contributed equally to this work.)

  • Isabella Crespi

    () (Department of Education, Cultural Heritage and Tourism, University of Macerata, P.le Bertelli, 1–62100 Macerata, Italy
    These authors contributed equally to this work.)


The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the phenomenon of increasing gender inequalities that happen at old age regarding women’s pension. Moving from recent life-course theories and studies, this study analyzes the reasons behind gender-biased pension levels and how their cumulative effects result in (continuous) significant gender gaps. The article presents a European overview of pension gender gap, focusing on family and work-life issues in Italy. This is one of the first critical reviews of the small but growing literature and national data concerning the effect of gender inequalities related to pension gaps in Italy. In the past, research on the balance of welfare provision between State, family, and market has ignored gender, while more recent studies have barely explored how gender roles, changing over time, interact with the shifts in pension policies. Considering the effects of work-life balance policies since the 2000 Lisbon agenda process and its development, the study especially focuses on the Italian case within the European context. The article examines how the choices in work-life balance policies vary between different national contexts and welfare regimes, by highlighting the Italian case. In this country, welfare and social policy regimes remain very unbalanced, showing a lack of awareness of family and women’s needs, as in many Southern countries, and Italy is not able to give appropriate answers to these problems and to the question of the growing gender gap. This article finally shows the poignancy of structural and cultural reasons for gender differentiated pension levels in Italy, within the European context, according to patterns of employment, marital, and maternal status between earlier and later generations of women.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Letizia Zanier & Isabella Crespi, 2015. "Facing the Gender Gap in Aging: Italian Women’s Pension in the European Context," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(4), pages 1-22, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jscscx:v:4:y:2015:i:4:p:1185-1206:d:59663

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Marcella Corsi & Manuela Samek Lodovici, 2013. "Active Ageing and Gender Equality," Working Papers CEB 13-004, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    2. Flavia Coda Moscarola & Margherita Borella, 2015. "The 2011 Pension Reform in Italy and its Effects on Current and Future Retirees," CeRP Working Papers 151, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
    3. Stefani Scherer & Emilio Reyneri, 2008. "The growth of female employment in Italy: structural versus cultural factors," Stato e mercato, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 2, pages 183-216.
    4. Bonsang, Eric, 2009. "Does informal care from children to their elderly parents substitute for formal care in Europe?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 143-154, January.
    5. Even, William E & Macpherson, David A, 1990. "The Gender Gap in Pensions and Wages," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 259-265, May.
    6. Jongkyun Choi, 2006. "The Role of Derived Rights for Old-age Income Security of Women," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 43, OECD Publishing.
    7. Steven J. Haider & Alison Jacknowitz & Robert F. Schoeni, 2003. "The Economic Status of Elderly Divorced Women," Working Papers wp046, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    8. Van Vliet, Olaf & Been, Jim & Caminada, Koen & Goudswaard, Kees, 2011. "Pension reform and income inequality among the elderly in 15 European countries," MPRA Paper 32940, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Erika K. Palmer, 2017. "Structural Disadvantage: Evidence of Gender Disparities in the Norwegian Pension System," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(1), pages 1-15, February.
    2. Erika Palmer, 2018. "The Heavy Cost of Care: Systemic Challenges in Norwegian Work Absenteeism," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(6), pages 1-17, June.

    More about this item


    old women; gender gap; aging; work-family balance; welfare state; pensions policies; Italy;

    JEL classification:

    • A - General Economics and Teaching
    • B - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology
    • N - Economic History
    • P - Economic Systems
    • Y80 - Miscellaneous Categories - - Related Disciplines - - - Related Disciplines
    • Z00 - Other Special Topics - - General - - - General


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