Retirement and Aging Parents in the Swedish Population

Linda Kridahl, Merril Silverstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The workforce is aging in most developed countries. Simultaneously, the parents of workers nearing retirement age are more likely to still be alive and in need of care. This study investigated the association between retirement transition and parental vital status in Sweden. The data were derived from Swedish population registers of women and men born between 1940 and 1945. A discrete-time survival analysis using complementary log-log functions was employed. The outcome was individuals’ retirement transition, and the main dependent variable was parental vital status, e.g., whether the mother, father or both parents were alive in the year that the individual retired. We also controlled for whether either one or both parents recently died prior to the retirement transition. This study’s findings indicate that the parental vital status has an independent, but relatively small, influence on individuals’ retirement transition and that the association is somewhat stronger and more consistent among women than men, particularly women with only a living mother or father (approximately 8 and 6% higher risk of retirement, respectively). Additionally, women had a higher risk of retirement during the immediate period after parental death, especially when the father was widowed (9% higher risk). In contrast, men had a 9% higher risk of retiring when either the mother or father had been widowed for some years. Moreover, siblings seem to moderate the effect of retirement, and the pattern was most noticeable among women. Overall, the risk of retirement was greater among individuals without siblings with both living parents or only a living mother or father. These findings indicate that individuals with parents who are vulnerable due to widowhood are able to work longer if they have larger families, which is consistent with the caregiving explanation. This relationship was more evident among women, providing support for the conclusion that care provision for parents may motivate labor force disengagement in the form of retirement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-112
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Population Ageing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Eldercare
  • Nordic country
  • Parental vital status
  • Retirement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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