Women's savings and retirement incomes policy: Adding qualitative methods to an economic research program?
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Existing economic research on women's savings and retirement incomes has generated a number of insights but has generally applied a limited number of research methods. Among feminist economists others within heterodox schools of economics, there has been a growing recognition of the benefits that might result from using a diverse range of research methods in order to contribute insights and perspectives neglected by traditional approaches to economic research. This paper outlines briefly the theoretical approaches and insights generated by previous research on women's savings. It describes the methods applied and the outcomes generated from that research. It then contrasts previous findings with the outcomes of a recent qualitative research project conducted in Western Australia.It is argued that two main advantages were gained by adding insights from qualitative research to the existing body of economic research on women's savings. The first was a greater appreciation of the links between women's decision-making contexts, processes and outcomes that bear upon their future access to economic resources. The second was the capacity to link a broader theoretical economic literature to the issue of women's savings. This second aspect provides considerable scope for extending the range of methods and insights that applied economic research can add to this issue.
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