IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Family ties: Women’s work and family histories and their association with incomes in later life in the UK


  • Maria Evandrou
  • Jane Falkingham
  • Tom Sefton


This paper examines the relationship between the family and work histories of older women in the UK and their individual incomes in later life, using retrospective data from the first fifteen waves of the British Household Panel Survey. The associations between women's family histories and their incomes later in life are relatively weak, and in many cases insignificant. Divorce, early widowhood and re-marriage are not associated with significant differences in older women's incomes, whilst motherhood is only associated with a small reduction in incomes later in life - and not at all for certain sub-groups of the population. Whilst there are significant differences in the work histories of older women with different family histories, this does not translate into large differences in their personal incomes, because work history-related income differentials are also relatively small. Even long periods in employment are not associated with significantly higher incomes in later life if these periods were in predominantly part-time or 'mixed' employment. Our analysis demonstrates how effective public transfers have been in dampening work history-related differentials in older women's incomes, especially for widows and those towards the bottom of the income distribution. On the one hand, this could be seen as a positive finding in that the 'pension penalty' associated with events such as motherhood and divorce are not as severe as is often anticipated. On the other hand, the main reason for this is that the pension returns to working longer are relatively low, especially for low-skilled women. Recent pensions reforms should eventually produce more equitable outcomes as between men and women, though possibly at the expense of greater inequality among women with different work and family histories.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Evandrou & Jane Falkingham & Tom Sefton, 2008. "Family ties: Women’s work and family histories and their association with incomes in later life in the UK," CASE Papers case135, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:sticas:case135

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Manning, Alan & Petrongolo, Barbara, 2005. "The part-time pay penalty," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4614, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Koenker,Roger, 2005. "Quantile Regression," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521845731, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    older women; pensions; work history; family history; life course; retirement incomes;

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cep:sticas:case135. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.