Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2015;41(1):16-23    pdf full text

doi:10.5271/sjweh.3464

How do retirement dynamics influence mental well-being in later life? A 10-year panel study

by Dingemans E, Henkens K

Objectives Empirical studies have consistently shown the negative impact of involuntary retirement on mental well-being. However, few studies have thus far investigated the degree to which post-retirement work affects late-life outcomes. The present study improves our understanding of the impact of retirement on the self-efficacy and life satisfaction among older adults by focusing on the combined impact of retirement voluntariness and participation in post-retirement work.

Methods By using panel data on retirement behavior in the Netherlands, we estimate fixed effects and multilevel models to explain (intra-)individual changes in self-efficacy and life satisfaction over a 10-year period in which most participants made the transition to retirement.

Results The results indicate that involuntary retirement is associated with decreases in both self-efficacy and life satisfaction in later life. Whereas involuntary retirees who participate in bridge jobs show no changes in life satisfaction, those involuntary retirees without bridge jobs experience a decline in life satisfaction. In addition, we found enhanced levels of life satisfaction for voluntary retirees in bridge employment. The association with self-efficacy was less pronounced.

Conclusion These results suggest that the characteristics of the retirement process influence changes in mental well-being in later life. Specifically, bridge employment alleviates the negative consequences of involuntary retirement and even seems to enhance post-retirement well-being for voluntary retirees.

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