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Gender, health, and preparedness among the key factors which impact retirement experience

Hyde M, Cheshire-Allen M, Damman M, Henkens K, Platts L, Pritchard K, Reed C. The experience of the transition to retirement: Rapid evidence review Centre for Ageing Better. 2018.

Review question

•    What are workers’ attitudes towards retirement and what are retired people’s experiences with the post-retirement period?


      Retirement is a major life transition. For many, retirement from paid employment is something to look forward to. But for others, retirement can pose many challenges since they may find it difficult to adjust to their new roles and circumstances.

      The nature of retirement is itself undergoing a period of transition. Governments in many countries have enacted policies to encourage people to remain in the workforce longer.

      Alongside a general increase in labour market participation amongst older workers, there has also been an emergence of new forms of work in later life, such as partial retirement, bridge jobs and un-retirement.

      These new ways of working and retiring present a range of challenges and opportunities for older workers.

      This scoping review was conducted to synthesize the existing research evidence on the experience of transitioning to retirement to better understand how best to help individuals navigate this transition.

How the review was done

      Ten databases were searched to identify relevant studies to be included in the systematic review. Among the searched databases were PsychINFO, MEDline, Web of Science, Emerald JSTOR, ProQuest, and Science Direct. Grey literature sources were also searched for relevant studies.

      Search terms included: retirement, attitudes, experience, and adjustment.

      The search was restricted to English-language articles published after 2002.

      A total of 525 articles were retrieved for review and analysis, and 57 were included in the review.

      The Centre for Ageing Better, the publisher of this study, is a charity funded by an endowment from the Big Lottery Fund (now The National Lottery Community Fund) in the United Kingdom.

What the researchers found

      Eight themes emerged from the review: 1) gender; 2) socioeconomic position; 3) ethnic and cultural factors; 4) family situation; 5) health; 6) attitudes to ageing; 7) work and occupation; and 8) preparedness and control.

      In general, men were found to have more positive attitudes to retirement and tend to be more engaged in planning for retirement than women. In contrast, there was a great deal of uncertainty in women’s retirement planning. As a general trend, women also appeared to have greater difficulty in adjusting to retirement than men.

      Socioeconomic position was associated with different patterns of work and retirement in later life. In general, those in a higher socioeconomic position tend to remain in work for longer, while those with in a lower socioeconomic position tend to leave work earlier, often due to disability or sickness.

      While the marital unit plays an influential role in the lead up to retirement, adjustment to retirement was found to be an individual experience with limited partner influence on the experience of the person retiring.

      There is some evidence that perceptions of ageism at work lead to a greater desire to retire early, particularly for older male workers. Positive views of ageing and retirement, on the other hand, seem to be associated with retirement planning and early retirement intention.

      Overall, the literature showed a lack of both preparedness and planning for retirement.


      Overall, the review concludes that organizations can have an important impact on expectations around retirement by supporting their older workers’ career development, specifically by encouraging career self-directedness and self-management.

Related Topics


Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.

Related Web Resources

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