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Periodic Report Summary 1 - GENDOWL (Policies to extend working life: implications for gender, ageing and precarious work.)

Publishable Summary – Phase 1, Feb 1, 2015 – 31 Jan, 2017

Project Objectives: The main aim of the project is to investigate the gender implications of policies designed to extend working life (EWL) in the US and Ireland for older workers in different types of occupations, using a qualitative, lifecourse approach. This is an issue of pressing policy concern in the context of demographic ageing and anticipated increased pension costs. The project will add to the scientific literature by addressing the current lack of qualitative lifecourse research designed to analyse older workers’ experiences of EWL and the processes by which pension systems and EWL reforms can lead to gender-differentiated pension outcomes. Research questions include: In what ways are men and women differentially affected by polices that extend working life? What is the likely impact of increasing pension age on the health and economic well-being of various types of older workers? What is the impact of increasing pension age on the health and quality of life of various types of older workers? How do European and United States policies and experiences in this area compare? The project involves the following components: policy analysis using a gendered political economy of ageing approach; literature review on policy and research on gender, ageing, employment and pensions; design of an innovative research instrument; conducting work-life history interviews with 120 workers, 60 in each country, across 3 different occupations: low-paid precarious work, involving physical labour; secure, sedentary public sector employment; and a professional career. The work-life histories encompass both retrospective and prospective elements. The experiences, work-life decision-making and retirement plans of older workers are explored. Specific objectives of the project for Years 1-3 are: 1. Comparative policy analysis of EWL policy in the US and Ireland and the EU (Year 1) 2.Ongoing literature review (Years 1-3) 3. Devise innovative research instrument to explore work-life trajectories across the life course. Conduct pilot interviews. Obtain ethical approval for research in US (Year 1). 4. MSCF to undergo training in lifecourse theory and qualitative analysis (Years 1-2). 5. Recruit and interview 30 men and 30 women workers in the US (Years 1-2). 6. Integration activities: present seminars at CWRU on Irish Policy and on US Policy (Years 1, 2). 7. Thematic and life-course analysis (Years 2-3). 8. Obtain ethical approval; recruit and interview 30 men and 30 women workers in Ireland (Year 3). 9. Dissemination: a. Submit papers/book chapters to peer-reviewed outlets for publication: Year one (2); Year 2 (3); Year 3 (4) b. Present conference papers at a minimum of 6 international conferences in the US and Europe (Years 1-3) c. Hold 2 seminars and 2 policy workshops, in US and Ireland.

Work Performed: All of the objectives for Phase 1 have been met or exceeded. Policy analysis of EWL policies in Ireland and the USA has been completed (Obj. 1.). Literature review is ongoing with policy, occupations and precarious employment completed (Obj 2). An innovative research instrument was prepared in consultation with experts in lifecourse and qualitative methodology at the international host institution (Obj. 3); pilot interviews were conducted, ethical approval obtained and interviews with 30 men and 30 women were completed by the end of Year 2 (Objs. 3,5). Thematic and lifecourse analysis of these interviews is ongoing and peer thematic analysis was conducted with colleagues in the Life History Study group at the Department of Sociology at CWRU (Obj. 7). The MSCF has received ongoing mentoring from ProfDannefer on all aspects of the project and has had training in Lifecourse Theory, attending an advanced course led by Prof Dannefer in Autumn, 2015 and a course in Qualitative Analysis led by Prof Timothy Black in Spring, 2016 (Obj, 4). She gave a seminar on Irish Policy at the Department of Sociology in April, 2015, one on US Policy at the Social Justice Institute at CWRU in April, 2016 (Obj. 6) One peer-reviewed paper and three peer-reviewed book chapters have been published/accepted for publication based on project analysis of EWL policy. A fifth paper on empirical findings has been drafted and will be submitted for publication by the end of May, 2017 (Obj. 9a met). A joint paper (MSCF: lead author) was published in Critical Social Policy. Two book chapters, based on EWL policy in Ireland and on EWL policy framework will be published in a peer-reviewed book by Policy Press in July, 2017. MSCF is co-author on a book chapter on future EWL research and policy and corresponding editor for the book. Nine papers were presented and two symposia co-organised by the MSCF at prestigious international conferences in Years 1 and 2 (Obj. 9b met). A policy workshop was held in CWRU in 2016, based on preliminary findings (Obj. 9c met). The policy workshop had a participant discussion involving 35 stakeholders and a panel discussion by Profs Brian Gran (CWRU), D. Street and the MSCF, chaired by Prof. Timothy Black (CWRU). Every support was given by Professor Dannefer and colleagues at the host institution to the MSCF throughout Phase 1.

Main results to date: Preliminary analysis of US data indicates that older women in physically demanding precarious work tend to have poorer working conditions, to earn less and expect lower pensions than men. Race and socio-economic status is associated with differential pension outcomes. Men and women in low-paid, physically demanding work are more likely than those in sedentary work to have chronic ill-health making it difficult for them to continue working after normal State pension age. Workers who leave school early have trajectories involving a series of precarious low-paid jobs leading to poor pensions. Occupations previously regarded as secure are increasingly likely to be insecure. Having higher SES or a spouse with high SES mitigates adverse impacts of precarious work.

Expected final results, Impact and Use: The project has had a significant impact in the media and at international conferences. Two newspaper articles and two online articles were published on the project, and an interview featured the MSCF as an emerging scholar at the American Sociological Association’s Section on Aging and the Lifecourse newsletter. Five conference papers were presented in the US and four in Europe. The MSCF is being recognized as an emerging scholar in the field. She was invited to give three seminars, in Canada, the US and as plenary speaker at Wuppertal, Germany during 2016, and was invited to join an International Advisory Board for a funding proposal. The main empirical results of the project will be available in Year 3. A paper on precarious workers (with Prof Dannefer) will be submitted in May, 2017. A comparative US/Irish paper, a US/Irish/Canadian paper, a gender paper and a theoretical/methodological paper will be submitted to peer-reviewed journals by end of Year 3. A policy workshop will be held in Ireland at end of 2017/early 2018. The MSCF has been elected Chair of COST Action IS1409 (Gender Health and Extended Working Lives in Western Countries) in April, 2015. The topic of this Action is closely related to GENDOWL. Being Chair of this Action provides the IOF with extensive opportunities to disseminate findings, since it involves policy workshops, international conferences, links with scholars from 33 countries, and international policy bodies such as Eurofound, the ILO and the WHO; this will broaden the scientific and policy impact of the project considerably. The MSCF has an expanded network of colleagues both in the host institution and also in the US and Europe more broadly where she has collaborated on publications, symposia policy workshops and given guest seminars with leading scholars in the field of gender, ageing, health and EWL. Overall, the MSCF has engaged successfully with the material, has demonstrated accelerated academic and leadership career development in this area of crucial policy and scientific importance, collaborating successfully with leading scholars in both the US and Europe on publications, dissemination and funding applications.

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Life Sciences
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