Origins and Mechanisms of Social Influences in Couples: The Case of Retirement Decisions

M. Eismann, K. Henkens, M. Kalmijn

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The interdependence between partners raises considerable interest in the sociology of life course, work, and families. Partner influences play a particularly important role in the work domain, because each partner’s work decisions have profound effects on the couple as a whole. In contrast to previous research, this article pays detailed attention to the role a partner plays in workers’ labour market decisions by analysing the case of early retirement decisions. We hypothesized that partners’ preferences for older workers’ retirement originate from altruism and self-interest. Moreover, we expected that partners influence older workers’ early retirement behaviour via persuasion and pressure. To adequately estimate partners’ and workers’ preferences for the worker’s retirement, we used an instrumental variable approach. This was possible because we collected multi-actor longitudinal data from a large representative sample of older workers and their partners in the Netherlands. The results support that spousal preferences originate in altruism and self-interest and that partners influence workers through persuasion and pressure. Gender differences in origins and mechanisms of partner influence are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)790–806
JournalEuropean Sociological Review
Issue number6
Early online date31 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • social influences
  • couples
  • retirement


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