Yeeun Choi, MA, University of Central Florida; Steve Jex, PhD, University of Central Florida; Hanyi Min, PhD, University of Central Florida
The present study aimed to examine the roles of family factors on retirees’ life and family satisfaction and health.
In the past few decades, researchers have paid extensive attention to understanding the process of retirement. However, studies examining the influence of family factors in retirees’ well-being has been lacking. Although the majority of time after retirement is spent with family, studies have primarily focused on individual factors such as attitudes towards retirement (Beehr, 1986; Talaga & Beehr, 1989) and how they influence retirement lives (Henkens, 1999). Specifically, little is known about how family factors such as spousal retirement status and quality of marital relationships influence retirees’ appraisals of retirement life.
Drawn from the Spillover Theory (Kelly & Voydanoff, 1985; Staines, 1980), people transfer feelings, attitudes, and behaviors from one domain to another. There are two types of spillover, horizontal spillover and vertical spillover (Sirgy et al., 2020). Horizontal spillover shows how one domain impacts another domain, whereas vertical spillover denotes people often have a hierarchy in mind to rank several domains. At the top, there is the most primary domain, overall life. Subjective appraisals of ones’ overall life are often impacted by lower-ranked domains (e.g., work, family; Sirgy et al., 2020). Thus, life and family satisfaction were often studied as the subjective appraisals of one’s overall life (Campbell et al., 1976; Diener et al., 1985). Family factors such as the quality of relationship with one’s spouse and spousal’s retirement status may impact the overall appraisal of one’s retirement life because the majority of time after retirement is typically spent with family. Therefore, the present study investigates how family factors relate to retirees’ well-being.
Data were collected in 2016 from the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS), a national representative sample of people aged 51 years or older. The current study only included retirees without missing data (N = 1,521). Outcome variables include life satisfaction (5 items, 7-point scale, Diener et al., 1985), family satisfaction (1 item, 5-point scale), and self-rated health (1 item, 5-point scale). Also, gender, spouses’ retirement status (1 item, 1 = Retired and 2 = Not retired), time spent with spouse enjoyable (1 item, 4-point scale), and closeness of a relationship with ones’ spouse (1 item, 4-point scale) were added. Control variables include age, participants and their spouses’ pensions, ongoing health problems of self (1 item, 4-point scale), and ongoing financial strain (1 item, 4-point scale). We performed a MANOVA using SPSS 27.0 to test the main effects and the moderating effect of gender and spousal retirement status.
Descriptive statistics are presented in Table 1. The results showed that women had higher scores on life satisfaction and health than male retirees. When retiree’s spouse is also retired, they experienced higher family satisfaction. The more time spent with their spouse was enjoyable, the higher life and family satisfaction and health scores were. The closer with a spouse, the more satisfied with life and family. There was no significant interaction of gender and spousal retirement status on well-being variables.
The present study revealed that wives were more satisfied with their life and healthier after retirement than husbands. Also, when ones’ spouse retired together, family satisfaction was greater. The findings indicate that retirement is not simply a state, but a dynamic and complicated process, depending on family factors and gender differences.
Previous research showed that men are more likely to experience depression after prolonged retirement. This is in line with the current study that women showed greater health and life satisfaction compared to men. Also, a study found that spousal retirement status is shown to have a stronger impact on men’s psychological well-being (Kim & Moen, 2002). Likewise, although the interaction effect was not found, this study showed that men are more satisfied with life when their spouse is also retired.
One disadvantage of using archival data is that the proper measures are not always accessible (Kosloski et al., 2001). Except for life satisfaction, most of the variables were single-item measures. However, some researchers (Wanous et al., 1997) mentioned that single-item scales can also be robust.
There are several practical implications of the findings for clinicians, employers, and managers. First, we should consider not only individuals’ factors like pension or individuals’ preferences but also family factors for one’s successful retirement plan. As ones’ retirement life would be largely influenced by family, clinicians or human resources managers may develop how to enhance the quality of family lives.
In summary, the present study supports that there are the effects of marital quality and spousal retirement status on retirees’ well-being, and also, there is a gender difference in the level of ones’ life satisfaction after retirement. These conclusions are consistent with the previous research findings and provide future directions for designing retirement policy and developing training/intervention programs to promote and enhance retiree’s well-being.