Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

‘Planning for uncertainty’: narratives on retirement transition experiences

  • SUZANNE MOFFATT (a1) and BEN HEAVEN (a1)

Abstract

Retirement is a major life transition which is associated in public discourses with reduced economic productivity and a raft of personal vulnerabilities. Consequently, governmental, health and employment sectors have promoted ‘active’ planning of affordable and ‘healthy’ retirements. This study presents a qualitative exploration of retirement transition and preparation experiences among 52 men and women from rural and urban areas of North East England, United Kingdom. The sample was diverse in terms of social class, income level, health status and type of work exit. Health, finance, social relationships and third-age opportunities were required resources for a good transition into retirement, and a degree of planning was required to mobilise these resources. However, the degree of choice and control around the transition to retirement was highly variable and socially structured. The notion of planning was embedded as a normative practice, particularly in relation to finances, but the practice of planning was highly contingent primarily due to personal circumstances (ill-health, bereavement, relationships) and work exit (redundancy, work stress, changes to shift patterns or hours). The findings offer insights into the reasons why many people do not plan and indicate that many of the assumptions associated with retirement planning warrant further consideration both theoretically and practically.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      ‘Planning for uncertainty’: narratives on retirement transition experiences
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      ‘Planning for uncertainty’: narratives on retirement transition experiences
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      ‘Planning for uncertainty’: narratives on retirement transition experiences
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Institute of Health & Society, Newcastle University, Baddiley-Clark Building, Richardson Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4AX, UK E-mail: suzanne.moffatt@ncl.ac.uk

References

Hide All
Adams, G. A. and Rau, B. L. 2011. Putting off tomorrow to do what you want today: planning for retirement. American Psychologist, 66, 3, 180–92.
Atchley, R. C. 1999. Continuity and Adaptation in Aging. Creative Positive Experiences. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
Banks, J. and Smith, S. 2006. Retirement in the UK. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 22, 1, 4056.
Barbour, R. S. 2003. The newfound credibility of qualitative research? Tales of technical essentialism and co-option. Qualitative Health Research, 13, 7, 1010–27.
Bardasi, E., Jenkins, S. and Rigg, J. 2002. Retirement and the income of older people: a British perspective. Ageing & Society, 22, 2, 131–59.
Beehr, T. A. 1986. The process of retirement: a review and recommendations for future investigation. Personnel Psychology, 39, 1, 3156.
Biggs, S. 1993. Understanding Ageing. Open University Press, Buckingham, UK.
Brewer, M., Browne, J., Emmerson, C., Goodman, A., Muriel, A. and Tetlow, G. 2007. Pensioner Poverty Over the Next Decade: What Role for Tax and Benefit Reform? Institute for Fiscal Studies, London.
Carter, W. B., Elward, K., Malmgren, J., Martin, M. L. and Larson, E. 1991. Participation of older adults in health programs and research: a critical review of the literature. The Gerontologist, 31, 5, 584–92.
Dannefer, D. 2003. Cumulative advantage/disadvantage and the life course: cross-fertilizing age and social science theory. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 58B, 6, S327–37.
Donaldson, T., Earl, J. K. and Muratore, A. M. 2010. Extending the integrated model of retirement adjustment: incorporating mastery and retirement planning. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 77, 2, 279–89.
Ebbinghaus, B. 2006. Reforming Early Retirement in Europe, Japan and the USA. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Ekerdt, D. J., Hackney, J., Kosloski, K. and DeViney, S. 2001. Eddies in the stream: the prevalence of uncertain plans for retirement. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 56B, 3, S162–70.
Fasang, A. E. 2010. Retirement: institutional pathways and individual trajectories in Britain and Germany. Sociological Research Online, 15, 2. Available online at http://www.socresonline.org.uk/15/2/1.html [Accessed 15 October 2015].
Feldman, D. C. and Beehr, T. A. 2011. A three-phase model of retirement decision-making. American Psychologist, 66, 3, 193203.
Giele, J. Z. and Elder, G. H. 1998. Life course research: development of a field. In Giele, J. Z. and Elder, G. H. (eds), Methods of Life Course Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Sage, Thousand Oaks, California, 527.
Gilleard, C. and Higgs, P. 2000. Cultures of Ageing: Self, Citizen and the Body. Prentice Hall, London.
Goodwin, J. and O'Connor, H. 2014. Notions of fantasy and reality in the adjustment to retirement. Ageing & Society, 34, 4, 569–89.
Heaven, B., O'Brien, N., Evans, E., White, M., Meyer, T. D., Mathers, J. C. and Moffatt, S. 2015. Mobilizing resources for well-being: implications for developing interventions in the retirement transition. The Gerontologist. Published online, February 3, 2015, doi:10.1093/geront/gnu159.
Hershey, D. A., Henkens, K. and Van Dalen, H. P. 2007. Mapping the minds of retirement planners: a cross-cultural perspective. Journal of Cross-cultural Psychology, 38, 3, 361–82.
Jex, S. and Grosch, J. 2013. Retirement decision making. In Wang, M. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Retirement. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 267–79.
Jones, I. R., Hyde, M., Victor, C., Wiggins, R. D., Gilleard, C. and Higgs, P. 2008. Ageing in a Consumer Society. From Passive to Active Consumption in Britain. Policy Press, Bristol, UK.
Kim, J. E. and Moen, P. 2002. Retirement transitions, gender, and psychological well-being: a life-course, ecological model. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 57B, 3, 212–22.
Laslett, P. 1989. A Fresh Map of Life. Weidenfield and Nicholson, London.
Loretto, W., Lain, D. and Vickerstaff, S. 2013. Rethinking retirement: changing realities for older workers and employee relations? Employee Relations, 35, 3. Available online at http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/er.2013.01935caa.001 [Accessed 6 April 2014].
Loretto, W. and Vickerstaff, S. 2013. The domestic and gendered context for retirement. Human Relations, 66, 1, 6586.
Maltby, T., Vroom, B. d., Mirabile, M., Overbye, E. and Ney, S. 2006. Ageing and the transition to retirement: a comparative analysis of European welfare states. Journal of European Social Policy, 16, 2, 201–10.
Marmot, M. 2010. Fair Society, Healthy Lives. The Marmot Review, UCL Institute of Health Equity. Available online at http://www.instituteofhealthequity.org/projects/fair-society-healthy-lives-the-marmot-review [Accessed 10 October 2012].
Marshall, V. W., Clarke, P. J. and Ballantyne, P. J. 2001. Instability in the retirement transition: effects on health and well-being in a Canadian study. Research on Aging, 23, 4, 379409.
Maykut, P. and Morehouse, R. 2002. Beginning Qualitative Research: A Philosophical and Practical Guide. Oxford: Taylor & Francis.
Moen, P. 1996. A life course perspective on retirement, gender and well-being. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 1, 2, 131–44.
Moen, P., Kim, J. E. and Hofmeister, H. 2001. Couples’ work/retirement transitions, gender, and marital quality. Social Psychology Quarterly, 64, 1, 5571.
Nazroo, J. Y. 2015. Volunteering, Providing Informal Care and Paid Employment in Later Life: Role Occupancy and Implications for Wellbeing. Future of Ageing: Evidence Review, Foresight, Government Office for Science, London.
Noone, J. H., Stephens, C. and Alpass, F. M. 2009. Preretirement planning and well-being in later life: a prospective study. Research on Aging, 31, 3, 295317.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) 2010. Standard Occupational Classification. Available online at http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/classifications/current-standard-classifications/soc2010/soc2010-volume-1-stracture-and-descriptions-of-unit-groups/index.html [Accessed 11 April 2011].
Office for National Statistics (ONS) 2012. 2011 Census, Key Statistics for Local Authorities in England and Wales. Available online at http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census/key-statistics-for-local-authorities-in-england-and-wales/rpt-ethnicity.htm#tab-Ethnicity-across-the-English-regions-and-Wales [Accessed 31 August 2012].
Phillipson, C. 2004. Work and retirement transitions: changing sociological and social policy contexts. Social Policy and Society, 3, 2, 155–62.
Reday-Mulvey, G. 2000. Gradual retirement in Europe. Journal of Aging and Social Policy, 11, 2/3, 4960.
Shultz, K. S. and Wang, M. 2011. Psychological persepctives on the hanging nature of retirement. American Psychologist, 66, 3, 170–9.
Sinclair, D., Moore, K. and Franklin, B. 2014. Linking State Pension Age to Longevity. Age UK, London.
Taylor, M. A. and Schaffer, M. 2013. Planning and adaptation to retirement: the post-retirement environment, change management resources, and need oriented factors as moderators. In Wang, M. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Retirement. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 249–66.
Topa, G., Moriano, J. A., Depolo, M., Alcover, C. M. and Morales, J. F. 2009. Antecedents and consequences of retirement planning and decision-making: a meta-analysis and model. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 75, 1, 3855.
Vickerstaff, S. 2006. ‘I'd rather keep running to the end and then jump off the cliff’. Retirement decisions: who decides? Journal of Social Policy, 35, 3, 455–72.
Vickerstaff, S. and Cox, J. 2005. Retirement and risk: the individualisation of retirement experiences? Sociological Review, 53, 1, 7795.
Wang, M. 2007. Profiling retirees in the retirement transition and adjustment process: examining the longitudinal change patterns of retirees’ psychological well-being. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 2, 455–74.
Wang, M. 2013. Retirement research: concluding observations and strategies to move forward. In Wang, M. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Retirement. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 603–17.
Wang, M. and Shultz, K. S. 2010. Employee retirement: a review and recommendations for future investigation. Journal of Management, 36, 1, 172206.

Keywords

‘Planning for uncertainty’: narratives on retirement transition experiences

  • SUZANNE MOFFATT (a1) and BEN HEAVEN (a1)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed