Eddies in the Stream: The Prevalence of Uncertain Plans for Retirement

TitleEddies in the Stream: The Prevalence of Uncertain Plans for Retirement
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsEkerdt, DJ, Hackney, KJ, Kosloski, K, DeViney, S
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology: Social Sciences
Call Numberpubs_2001_Ekerdt_DJGSeriesB.pdf
KeywordsDemographics, Employment and Labor Force, End of life decisions, Health Conditions and Status, Healthcare, Methodology, Other, Retirement Planning and Satisfaction, Time Use

OBJECTIVE: This study examined an assumption of retirement theory that typifies older workers as preretirees who are planfully engaged in paths toward retirement. METHODS: Using survey responses among workers in the 1992 and 1994 waves of the Health and Retirement Study, we described the prevalence of nonsubstantive answers to questions about the expected form and timing of retirement (e.g., don't know, haven't thought about it ). We tested explanations for this uncertainty as an artifact of the survey process, but also as an outcome of the opportunity structure for retirement planning. RESULTS: Survey procedure did generate some of these noncommittal responses. Depending on question type, approximately 10 to 40 of workers did not state when or how they would retire, and such responses were less prevalent across age and time. In addition, categorical uncertainty about form and timing was theoretically predictable in a framework that supposed that workers less subject to a socially attended life--at work or away--would be more undecided about the future. DISCUSSION: Uncertainty is an authentic, meaningful stance toward retirement that theory and research design should not ignore. Just as actual transitions to retirement can be ambiguous or blurred, the expectation of retirement, as well, can be untidy.

Endnote Keywords

Age Factors/Career Mobility/Data Collection/Decision Making/Employment/Psychology/Female/Human/Logistic Models/Longitudinal Studies/Middle Age/Planning Techniques/Probability/Psychological Theory/Questionnaires/Research Design/Retirement/Psychology/Support, U.S. Government--PHS/Time Factors/United States

Endnote ID


Citation Key6750