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Women With Grandkids May Leave Workforce Sooner

Study also finds those with flexible work situations less likely to retire

FRIDAY, April 17, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Women with grandchildren are more likely to retire early, according to a new study.

Researchers looked at more than 47,000 retirement-age women in the United States. They found that those with grandchildren were 9 percent more likely to retire early, presumably to care for the youngsters. That's about the same percentage who retire early due to health problems.

The investigators also found that older women who have flexible work arrangements -- such as reducing the number of hours they work -- are less likely to retire. This finding suggests that many want to keep working.

But it's not clear from this study whether women retire early to care for grandchildren out of choice or necessity, according to the researchers.

Early retirement can be a bigger problem for many women because they tend to have lower incomes than men while they're working, the researchers noted. Women also may have fewer years in the workforce than men, which usually means smaller retirement accounts, Social Security benefits and pensions, according to study co-author Robin Lumsdaine, a professor of international finance at American University in Washington, D.C.

If people are making retirement decisions based on family considerations, such as the arrival of grandchildren, current policies meant to extend the number of years Americans spend working may have a limited effect, Lumsdaine said in a university news release.

Instead, policies to improve access to child care for younger people could help reduce the grandchild-related care demands on retirement-age workers and keep them in their jobs longer, she said.

The study was published recently in the journal Demography.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers child care tips for grandparents.

SOURCE: American University, news release, April 13, 2015
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