Dutiful citizen or a pragmatic professional? Voluntary retirement of Icelandic local councillors

Eva Marín Hlynsdóttir


This article explores the working conditions of Icelandic local councillors in relation to voluntary retirement from the council. In the past three elections, the turnover in councils has been very high, with approximately six out of every 10 council members being new recruits at the beginning of each term. The turnover has also highlighted possible gender issues, as more women than men (proportionally) leave the council after their first term. The findings reveal a significant difference between the councillors who plan to stay and those who opt to leave. This is in relation to the local authorities’ population size, satisfaction with remuneration, and seniority in the council. Thus, councillors in larger municipalities or councillors satisfied with their remuneration are more likely to run for council versus councillors from smaller municipalities and those less happy with their remuneration. Seniority is also a decisive factor, as the majority of all councillors leave after the first term. Significant differences were not found between the female and male councillors in relation to voluntary retirement. However, gendered differences were found in relation to institutional position and working conditions, suggesting a gender-based division of labour in local councils.


Voluntary retirement; local councillors; gender; population size.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13177/irpa.a.2017.13.2.1


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