The impact of retirement on the lives of older adults is the focus of the latest wave of research from recently published The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, supported by Irish Life.
Its Irish Adults Transition to Retirement report examines retirement patterns and and the relationship between retirement and wellbeing, social participation, and health-related behaviours.
The level to which individuals have planned for retirement, the nature of their retirement, and financial security post-retirement were identified as key factors in having a positive transition to life after work.
The ageing study has collected detailed survey and health assessment data from adults aged 50 years and older every two years since 2009, including comprehensive information on participants’ employment status and their transition to retirement.
The report found that retirement doesn’t come as standard. It is often framed as simply an age-related event when, in fact, it is a much more complex process that can happen at different ages, for different reasons, and in different contexts.
The research shows that individuals who do not know at what age they hope to retire, often face more uncertainty in their jobs and are also more likely to have experienced a variable or insecure employment history.
Research participants who reported that they did not know when they planned to retire are likely to differ from those who are planning their retirement in terms of both their employment histories and futures.
Almost a quarter of participants reported that they had no plans to retire while a further 14% did not know when they would retire. Of those with no plans to retire, 60% had no private pension in place.
On average, women planned to retire earlier than men while men were significantly more likely than women to say that they have no plans to retire. The research shows that 65 to 67 years of age is the most popular planned age at which to retire among men and women working in the public and private sectors.
The benefit of having financial planning in place is evidenced by those planning to retire at an earlier age being significantly more likely to be a member of an occupational pension scheme.
Among participants who had already retired, over half retired when they became eligible for a pension (state, occupational, or private), while one third retired for other reasons such as spending time with family.
The remainder retired due to ill-health (5%) or were made redundant (4.5%). Becoming eligible for a pension was the biggest driver of retirement among participants who had planned for retirement while for those who had no defined retirement plans in place, ill-health is the main reason for people having to leave paid employment.
David Harney, CEO, Irish Life Group said: “Irish Life is proud to be supporting The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, and conveying the message that retirement can be a very positive life-stage. Each year we see the average life expectancy increase which inevitably is leading to more years of retirement.
We know that financial considerations are important in preparing for retirement and can see both from the research, and from our customers, that planning for retirement gives people more control over their post-working life and more options around how they spend their retirement.
“We are fully committed to ensuring that people enjoy the years approaching and beyond retirement and in supporting them in having choices around retirement.”
Lead academic at the ageing study Professor Rose Anne Kenny said: “The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing provides us with a solid base of research to support public policy in addressing the health, economic and social systems of our citizens as they age.
“This report provides a unique opportunity to observe changes in the lives of older adults as they embark on retirement, an important life stage for many. Retirement provides opportunities as well as challenges to many aspects of people’s lives.
“Though the actual process of retirement may be stressful, once mitigated the hardest part is over. As a research institution we are very excited about sharing this knowledge with policy makers and the general public,” said Professor Kenny.