Gender Disparities in Life Satisfaction after Retirement: The Role of Leisure, Family, and Finances.

TitleGender Disparities in Life Satisfaction after Retirement: The Role of Leisure, Family, and Finances.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of PublicationForthcoming
AuthorsCalasanti, T, Carr, D, Homan, P, Coan, V
JournalThe Gerontologist
ISSN Number1758-5341
KeywordsDiversity in aging, Gender relations, Longitudinal methods

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Recent research on life satisfaction in retirement explores gender differences but yields inconsistent patterns and does not consider gendered sources of satisfaction. We use a gender relations framework to examine whether women and men experience different changes in life satisfaction with retirement, and whether observed differences are a consequence of different assessments of the leisure, family, and financial situations that characterize their post-retirement lives.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: We use longitudinal data drawn from men and women in the Health and Retirement Study who transitioned into retirement between ages 62-72 for the first time between 2008 and 2016 (N=593). We employ Ordinary Least Squares regression and mediation tests to assess gender differences in overall and domain-specific life satisfaction (i.e., leisure, family, finances).

RESULTS: Men reported increased life satisfaction following retirement, but women did not. No gender differences related to leisure or family life post-retirement emerged. Gender was associated with post-retirement satisfaction with finances (p<0.001), with men reporting higher financial satisfaction. Mediation models confirmed a gender disparity in overall life satisfaction mediated by satisfaction with finances post-retirement (p<0.01), explaining approximately one-third of the disparity.

DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS: This study shows men derive greater improvements in life satisfaction in association with retirement than do women, and some of this disparity relates to women's lower satisfaction with their finances. These findings should caution policy-makers from assuming how women's increased labor force participation influences financial security in retirement, and encourage scholars to consider how gender influences subjective assessments of later life.

Citation Key11425
PubMed ID33539508