Postretirement work role residuals: The role of prior work in the lives of fully retired individuals

Purpose of the study: From a role theoretical perspective it can be expected that individuals differ in the extent to which they experience aspects of the work role after they have fully retired from it.
Quantitative empirical insights regarding these postretirement “work role residuals” are scarce though.
This study aims at filling this gap, by developing a measure of postretirement work role residuals and examining these in relation with preretirement work characteristics, engagement in alternative roles, and expectations about retirement.
Design and Methods: Analyses are based on panel data collected in 2001, 2006/7, and 2011 among
860 older individuals in the Netherlands, who were employed at Wave 1 and fully retired after that.
Results: Even though for the majority of retirees prior work plays only a minor role in their current lives, also for a considerable share of retirees prior work is still important. Higher levels of
postretirement work role residuals were observed among those retirees who retired recently, used to work in higher occupations, frequently worked overtime, and expected to miss work-related social status in retirement.
Implications: Postretirement work role residuals capture a relevant dimension of the postretirement process that has received limited attention in the literature on retirement of older workers thus far.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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