Deciding the future: Do dual-earner couples plan together for retirement?

Phyllis Moen, Qinlei Huang, Vandana Plassmann, Emma Dentinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


This study examines the retirement planfulness of men and women in dual-earner couples using data from the Ecology of Careers Study and structural equation modeling. It assesses whether each spouse plans independently, whether this is a gendered division of labor, whether both spouses' plans mutually influence each other, or whether decision making about retirement is an individual process for each member of a couple. The authors find that spouses' levels of retirement planfulness are positively related but in different ways depending on gender, cohort, and family circumstances. Perceived control (mastery), income adequacy, and workload all predict both husbands' and wives' planfulness. And husbands' planfulness tends to shape their wives' planfulness in the full sample. However, age cohort and family stage both moderate dual-earner couples' decision making about retirement. Younger couples (those in the trailing edge baby boom cohort) make plans independently, and in this younger cohort, only wives' planfulness can be modeled.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1422-1443
Number of pages22
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Dual-earner couples
  • Gender differences
  • Retirement planfulness
  • Working couples


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