Academic journal article Culture, Society and Masculinities

Gender, Culture, Retirement, and Older Men in Jamaica: Findings from a Survey

Academic journal article Culture, Society and Masculinities

Gender, Culture, Retirement, and Older Men in Jamaica: Findings from a Survey

Article excerpt


Retirement issues in Jamaica are fast increasing in salience to policy given rapid ageing of the population. A quantitative survey was conducted involving 2,000 men aged 55 years and over in one parish of Jamaica using cluster sample methodology. Information related to retirement patterns, practices and planning was collected. Approximately 66.5% of respondents had no plan to retire; 16.6% did not think about it; 14.4% were self-employed and would work until an eventual death; and 2.5% said their children would take care of them. Of those who had retirement plans, the major concerns were where they would live (89.4%) and with whom (8.4%). Health care was a cause for concern for only 2.2%. Men generally had not thought out retirement plans well. Given a shift away from extended family systems, increasing life expectancy, increasing economic uncertainties, and shifting epidemiological patterns, there are implications for healthcare and social security policies, in the wider context of the developing world.


Morgan and Kunkel (2007, p. 186) referring to Kinsella and Phillips (2005, pp. 30-32) have indicated that "retirement did not always exist in western societies and still is not common in many developing nations around the world/' According to Quandagno (1982), the start of large-scale retirement began at the close of the 19th century, and this arose out of a mix of both social and economic changes. Prior to 1966 and the enactment of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), retirement was not a commonly accepted phenomenon in Jamaica. The prevailing understanding in the Jamaican society, and more so in the rural areas, favoured the cultural condoning of, "working until death." Few men or women contributed to any retirement scheme, or plan and consequently few expected or had any retirement benefits. The NIS was introduced in 1966 as a mandatory social insurance scheme to provide a minimum guaranteed old-age pension as well as employment injury, disability, survivors/ and other insurance benefits. However, the existing differential in the age at which women (age 60) and men (age 65) become eligible for National Insurance pension is disadvantageous to men. Only approximately a third of older persons 60 years and above/ meet the qualifying criteria and are beneficiaries of NIS pensions. The fact that the majority of older persons do not qualify for NIS pensions is mainly attributable to a lack of long-term unemployment, or sporadic employment, history during their working years, and informal sector activities that present many difficulties with respect to compliance with social security legislation (United Nations, 2005).

Historical analysis has provided some insight on the utilization of the NIS scheme. The 2001-2002 financial year, reflected a total NIS contribution of !$2,640,702,000 which represented 13.4 percent of Individual Income Tax Revenues (James & Wallace, 2004). However, the number of persons receiving NIS pensions for 2001 was only 71,556 (see Table 1). Moreover, of the 61,851 beneficiaries aged 65+ years, males constituted 43% (or 26,878) of this number. Notably, males constituted 45.6% of the 65+ year-old population. There were 90,991 males in the over-65-years population indicating that a strikingly large number (64,113) of males, or 54.5% of that agegroup, were not covered by the NIS. These findinds underscore the need for an examination of retirement and retirement planning practices among this population.


Gerontological research shows that men and women follow different life course paths, leading to variations in economic well-being and family resources throughout later life. For instance, because women tend to be financially dependent on men, have more irregular work histories (Wong & Hardy, 2009), and live longer than men, they have smaller pensions and are more likely than their male counterparts to exhaust their financial resources in later life. …

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