Gender and Generational Continuity: Breadwinners, Caregivers and Pension Provision in the UK

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Debora Price


The UK is considered a ’male breadwinner/female part-time carer’ state due to men and women conforming to stereotypical gender roles within partnerships, and welfare policies reflecting and reinforcing this gender division. Using data from the General Household Surveys 2001 and 2002, this article shows that mothers continue to be markedly disadvantaged in participating in the accumulation of pensions compared to women who have never had children. This is mostly because they take on caring roles at the expense of paid work, but also because where women earn much less than their partners, they are more likely to depend on them for pension provision. Female breadwinners are likely to be low earners, and so, in contrast with men, their status as “breadwinner” does not usually imply pension accumulation. Consideration of the impact of the institutional framework of pension provision requires an understanding of inequalities within couples and societal expectations of mothers’ caring responsibilities.


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