Couples' work/retirement transitions, gender, and marital quality

Phyllis Moen, Jungmeen E. Kim, Heather Hofmeister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


We investigate whether couples' employment/retirement circumstances predict marital quality differently for men and for women, using a life course framework and two waves of data. We find that the actual retirement transition (from one's primary career job) is related to declines in marital quality for both husbands and wives. Married men and women who move into retirement while their spouses remain employed report the greatest marital conflict, regardless of gender. Actually being retired (more than two years), however, promotes marital quality, suggesting that role strain is reduced once couples are settled into retirement. Not-yet-retired women still in their primary career jobs report higher marital conflict if their husbands are no longer employed. Findings indicate the importance of incorporating couples' joint work/retirement status, gender, and actual status passages to model the dynamics of marital quality in late midlife.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-71
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Psychology Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2001


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