So now what? Effects of retirement on social activities and relationships with friends and family

Retirement is an event in life that often brings about great changes in a person’s personal and social life, but there is surprisingly little research into this matter. Theoretically, work can be viewed as an important role, providing identity and filling time. After retirement, this role is lost, and it is expected that people will seek substitutes for this loss. This paper focuses on the effects of retirement on (private) relationships with family and friends as well as on (public) social activities, such as volunteering. Using two waves from the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study, a conditional change model is employed. Two groups are compared: men and women who kept working, and men and women who retired. Results show that following retirement, people do not increase the number of contacts with children, parents or friends. However, they do appear to change the nature of some relationships by providing more instrumental support. Furthermore, retirees seem to start spending more time volunteering after retirement, and they increase their organizational memberships. Implications, strengths and limitations of the study are discussed.

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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