Retirement more successful when couples plan
Boomers need to be aware of key to successful
retirement found in working as a couple
Sept. 4, 2013 - As Baby Boomers begin entering
retirement, some may find themselves unprepared for the transition. New
research from the University of Missouri indicates that spouses tend to
have similar levels of planning for retirement. This planning can lead
to more success and less stress when they leave the workforce.
“The transition into retirement, in some ways, is
like the transition into parenthood,” said Angela Curl, an assistant
professor in the MU School of Social Work.
“When couples prepare to become parents, they do a
lot of planning for the future. They spend time thinking, ‘How might our
relationship change? How will our lives be different, and what do we
need to do to accommodate this life change?’ It’s the same way with
retirement. It affects so many different areas of life, and by
preplanning, couples can make retirement a more positive experience.”
Curl analyzed data from the Health and Retirement
Study, which included information from married couples who were 45 years
of age and older and worked full or part time. Curl found that, when one
spouse planned, the other spouse also planned. Even though husbands
planned more often than wives, the spouses influenced each other.
“On commercials, retirement is portrayed as a life
of golfing, relaxing or walking along beaches together,” Curl said.
“Sometimes individuals have unrealistic expectations about what
retirement will be like.
Individuals can envision retirement one way, but if
their spouses don’t envision retirement the same way, it can be
problematic. Talking to your spouse about retirement before you leave
the workforce is important in reducing conflict.”
Curl also found that White men with higher incomes
were the most likely to prepare for retirement, which helps them
transition out of the workforce more smoothly. Retirement is correlated
with income, but even individuals with little or no income need to
prepare for their older years, Curl said.
“Retirement is not just something for wealthy
individuals,” Curl said. “Too often, retirement planning is thought of
purely as financial planning, but that isn’t necessarily the case.
Employers should develop better training programs to help women and
minorities plan for their retirement years so they also can be
Previous research has shown that failure to prepare
for retirement makes individuals more likely to be depressed and less
likely to successfully adapt to the life change; however, planning for
retirement has positive outcomes, such as improved psychological
well-being, more financial stability and better role adjustment.
“Many times, adults might not think about what it
actually means to be retired, or they think about retirement in abstract
terms,” Curl said. “Individuals need to plan for retirement in more
concrete ways. If individuals want to volunteer when they’re retired,
they might ask themselves where and how often they will volunteer.
Having specific plans and steps to follow will help individuals enter
retirement with more success.”
The Clinical Gerontologist published Curl’s
article, “Anticipatory Socialization for Retirement: A Multilevel Dyadic
Model,” earlier this year. Jerry Ingram, an associate professor at the
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, co-authored the study. The
School of Social Work is part
MU College of Human Environmental
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