Anticipating, experiencing and valuing the transition from worker to retiree : a longitudinal study of retirement as an occupational transition
Abstract: The general aim of this thesis was to explore and understand the retirement process from an occupational perspective. Exploration of the retirement process included attitudes, preparations and expectations before retirement, experiences of the transition as new retirees, and experiences of daily life as established retirees including a retrospective view on the retirement process. Study I explored attitudes to work and retirement among a group of working people at the age of 63. About four out of five had a positive attitude to their retirement. About three-quarters had a positive attitude to paid and/or volunteer work in retirement, most of these with reasons other than financial as the most important reason. Implications regarding the values and role of work in retirement in relation to society and culture were discussed. Studies II and III explored the retirement process among a group of participants anticipating retirement (study II) and experiencing retirement as new retirees (study III). These studies used narrative analysis looking at basic directions in the narratives. The results showed that retirement is anticipated differently by people and that the direction of the narratives depended on a person's experience of the value of work relative to other occupations. In study III, the narratives of about one third of the participants changed direction. This change related to either the participant's own action to change it or to unexpected consequences of the transition. Study IV was a seven year longitudinal study of the process from worker to established retiree. The results showed that the process was an interaction between a participant's narrative and the living world which sometimes provided surprises and periods of turbulence. An overall finding was that a special type of occupation, conceptualized as engaging occupation, had a close relationship to retirement satisfaction. Results suggested implications on the importance of differentiation of occupation and how motivation in occupation is regarded. Study V explored the experience of the retirement transition by a group of newly retired. The findings showed that a gliding process to a slower rhythm with a new temporal adaptation took place. Occupations also changed meaning. One pattern was to go from one type of occupational imbalance before retirement to another type of occupational imbalance after retirement. In summary, retirement was seen as a dynamic occupational transition where the individual interacted with the environment. The new patterns that were established often had unexpected consequences on other occupations and on the occupational pattern as a whole.
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