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Gender differences in leisure patterns at age 50 and above: micro and macro aspects

  • DANA AVITAL (a1)

The current paper seeks to explore whether there are differences in leisure patterns among men and women aged 50 and above, and whether the characteristics of one's country of residence influence these patterns. Data were obtained from the first wave of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE 2004/5), as well as from the database of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The research population comprised 7,769 men and 9,337 women aged 50 and above from 11 European countries. Three clustered-robust logistic regression models examined the likelihood of participating in one or more of three leisure activities: going to sport or social clubs, participating in a course or educational class, and volunteering. Three Blinder–Oaxaca decompositions were used to examine gender gaps in participation in each activity. At the micro level, the results showed that men were more active than women and that men were also less influenced by the observed characteristics. In addition, retirement only increased the likelihood of participating in sport club activities for men. At the macro level, the country's expenditure on culture and recreation was found to contribute significantly to women's participation in leisure activities, especially those in which most of the participants are men. In addition, macro variables as a whole were found to reduce the contribution of the observed micro characteristics. The main conclusion of the study is that the macro factors, especially the country's expenditure on culture and recreation as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product, contribute substantially to reducing the gender gap in participation in leisure activities in older age.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Dana Avital, Department of Labor Studies, Tel-Aviv University, Ramat-Aviv, P.O. Box 39040, Tel-Aviv 69978, Israel. E-mail:
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