Impact of different types of retirement transitions on perceived satisfaction with life

Gerontologist. 2014 Apr;54(2):232-44. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnt006. Epub 2013 Feb 26.


Purpose: This study examines how life satisfaction changes as a function of the transition into retirement, distinguishing between different types of voluntary and involuntary exits.

Design and methods: Perceived satisfaction with life (SWL) was measured among 1,388 older Dutch workers on two occasions, separated by 6 years. During that time, more than half of participants (54%) left full-time employment and entered retirement.

Results: Those who made a voluntarily departure from the workforce reported higher levels of perceived SWL compared with those who remained employed, whereas the life satisfaction scores of those whose departure was involuntary (due to health reasons, organizational reasons) were found to be the lowest. Other factors that had an effect on satisfaction included positive and negative health changes experienced during the 6-year interim, as well as changes in marital status due to divorce or loss of a spouse.

Implications: These findings have important theoretical implications for the understanding of factors that shape individuals' perceptions of how they view the quality of their lives. From an applied perspective, the findings have implications for the development of organizational initiatives aimed at helping workers transition into retirement in such a way as to maintain high levels of subjective well-being.

Keywords: Forced retirement; Life events; Life satisfaction; Retirement; Transition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Retirement / psychology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires