The economic role of housework at retirement and personality traits: evidence from the United Kingdom
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Housework is a crucial determinant of expenditure patterns at retirement by acting as a substitute for the purchase of market goods and services. In this paper we build on the literature about retirement behaviour by revisiting the economic role of home-production of good and services. Specifically, we empirically examine whether personality traits determine the time individuals devote to housework due to the occurrence of a transition to retirement. Our empirical strategy is organized by studying the constraints of a two-period model of transition to retirement which has housework as a component of agents’ life-time wealth. Then, we use longitudinal data from the British Household Panel Survey – of individuals aged 55 or above to show that extraversion is a key determinant of the changes in the time new retirees devote to these tasks, being more relevant than consumption expenditures, household income, and gender. Extroverted individuals are not only oriented by productivity but might also perceive activities such as cooking for household members and doing grocery shopping, as less costly in terms of effort, or even pleasant. More extroverted retirees might also do housework to sustain their pre-retirement levels of leisure and entertainment expenditures. We provide findings that could be useful for policymakers in the field of pensions and social care to better understand how the ageing population cope with expenditures and adapt its economic behaviour to achieve desired standards of living at retirement.