From 'trailing wives' to the emergence of a 'trailing husbands' phenomenon: Retirement migration to rural areas

Aileen Stockdale

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13 Citations (Scopus)
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Migration and gender studies have focused on economically active heterogeneous couples and traditionally highlight a dominant male role in migration decision-making. The female partner is commonly portrayed as a 'trailing wife' or 'trailing mother' with the move found to have a negative effect on her employment prospects. Much less is known about if or how the balance of power shifts between husbands and wives when employment or career-motivated moves are removed from the decision-making process. This is analysed with reference to retirement migration to rural areas of the UK and involved interviews with both partners present. For this cohort of retired couples, and in common with the literature, migration during economically active life course stages demonstrates strong 'trailing wife' and 'trailing mother' tendencies. The male's decision to retire signalled the commencement of a retirement life course stage for the couple. However, in contrast to the earlier male dominated decision-making, retirement migration saw the emergence of a 'trailing husband' phenomenon. Wives appear to adapt most successfully to the new rural environment while many husbands found it difficult to adjust (at least initially) to the multiple life changes: moving from largely urban areas to a rural setting alongside exiting the workforce. The findings suggest that the role of leader/ follower changed during the course of these couples' lives together and in relation to their reasons for moving.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022
Number of pages26
JournalPopulation, Space and Place
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2016


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