8: Expectations of Transitions to Retirement in Ireland

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This chapter explores expectations of the transition to retirement for older women workers in Ireland in the context of policies introduced in recent years to raise state pension age comparatively quickly. It focuses on the retirement plans of workers in two very different occupations – teaching and home care work. Data from interviews with ten women in each occupation are analyzed, using a life course perspective. Both teachers and healthcare workers disagree with the proposed increase in state pension age. Workers face very different options at retirement; teachers are protected by having typically stable employment trajectories with good pay and generous occupational pensions and most can retire early on full pension. By contrast, healthcare workers may need to work for longer because of disrupted employment trajectories, lower pay and low or no occupational pensions, leaving them dependent on the state pension. An increase in state pension age is a blunt policy instrument that exacerbates existing relative disadvantage for home care workers. The policy implications are discussed.

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