Family, Work and Old Women’s Situation in Italy and Spain: New Gender Inequalities

Isabella Crespi, Maria Letizia Zanier, Claudia Santoni, Alessandra Fermani, Lucia D'Ambrosi


The discussion about women’s situation in old age has often been restricted to their employment biographies. For women, however, family factors play a large role in connection with welfare state models. The key research question is: “How has the condition of older women, including their retirement, been influenced by family- and job-related factors in Southern Europe?” Italy and Spain, particularly, exemplify the Mediterranean, familistic welfare model. This paper shows results from the Survey of Health and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) relative to these two countries (Wave 1). The data analysed highlight the impact of different experiences of motherhood, marriage and career, on women’s retirement years. SHARELIFE contains standard questions concerning job and family life aspects. The samples thus obtained provide cases for further research on the situation of ageing women, including those who live alone. SHARE data show that, since the beginning of 2000, women have had shorter careers compared to men, with many career breaks. These differences, which were not followed by any balancing policies in the Lisbon agenda decade, are now affecting women’s retirement and creating new gender inequalities.


Keywords: old women, gender inequality, job and career, motherhood, welfare state, Southern Europe

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