Igor Yefremov, a Researcher of the International Research Department of Political Demography and Macrodynamics at the Gaidar Institute, commented to “Forbes” why women retire earlier than men.

Growth in the share of the elderly in the total population is observed in almost all countries. According to the UN, by 2050 the number of people over 60 years old will reach 50% of the total population on the planet. The process of population ageing is becoming one of the most significant social issues of the XXI century, according to scientists. Moreover, many countries will face significant tasks in health care, pensions and social security in the coming decades.

In Russia, women retire earlier, and many consider this to be a discrimination against men. The retirement age of 55 for women and 60 for men, which was maintained until 2018, was approved back in the USSR. The difference was explained by physiological differences, various social roles performed by women and men, and the fact that women's bodies are more susceptible to adverse production factors. These arguments are still referred to by the state.

The argument about adverse production factors is controversial: for example, it is cited as a justification for banning some professions for women. However, it is not confirmed by medical research, especially in modern working conditions.

As for physiological features and related roles in society (in other words, motherhood as a compulsory burden), things are not so straightforward. Igor Yefremov said that the first labor pensions appeared in the XIX century, when it was assumed that women did not participate in the labor market. In Russia mass labor pensions appeared only under the Soviet power and at first concerned only the textile industry and then the pension reform was extended to the whole economy.

“I would assume that the difference in retirement was the result of women working both in factories (or agriculture) and at home, as well as giving birth to five or six children,” the expert said. Childbirth was something that could not be avoided in marriage, and giving birth was very risky as maternal mortality was very high. Therefore, earlier retirement for women was compensation for the risk and waste of working age on pregnancy and childbirth.”

Igor Yefremov finds the age difference fair for the XX century, as indeed, there were three types of labor for women compared to men: in the economy, domestic and reproductive labor. However, now things have changed. “First, women on average give birth to fewer (one or two children),” the expert noted. Second, not all families in Russia are now patriarchal: every year we are closer to the egalitarian scheme, when domestic work is shared between men and women. Third, there are fewer health risks for women now. Thus, now this difference is not actually justified by anything.”