European Journal of Ageing

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 155–169 | Cite as

The influence of living arrangements, marital patterns and family configuration on employment rates among the 1945–1954 birth cohort: evidence from ten European countries

  • Jim OggEmail author
  • Sylvie Renaut
Original Investigation


As they approach retirement, Europeans in mid-life display a range of living arrangements and marital patterns. These configurations influence labour force participation for men and women in different ways and these differences are accentuated between countries. Using data from the first Wave (2004) of the Survey on Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), the paper examines the relationship between living arrangements, marital patterns, family configurations and participation in the labour force for the birth cohort of 1945–1954. The data show that the probability of being in paid employment was higher for respondents living in a couple in northern Europe than in southern Europe. In all countries, men in a couple had significantly higher employment rates than women in a couple, but employment rates of women in a couple differed significantly between countries. Multivariate analysis with country effects confirmed the negative influence of age, poor health, lower levels of education and household income on the probability of being in paid employment, but the effect of variables concerning living arrangements, marital patterns and family configurations varied according to country. A multilevel analysis showed that the between country variance of being in paid employment could not be explained by individual characteristics alone, that a large part of the country variance could be explained by the country specific effect of women in a couple, and that the level of ‘modern’ life styles in each country (rates of cohabitation outside marriage, divorce or separation and recomposed families) had a significant effect on employment rates, especially for women in a couple.


Employment Older workers Living arrangements Marital patterns Europe 



The authors would like to thank Arnaud Bringe and Eva Lelièvre, Institut National d’Etudes Démographiques, Paris, France and the two anonymous referees for their comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Young FoundationLondonUK
  2. 2.Direction des Recherches sur le VieillissementCaisse Nationale d’Assurance VieillesseParisFrance

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