Postretirement Life Satisfaction and Financial Vulnerability: The Moderating Role of Control

Dawn C. Carr, Phyllis Moen, Maureen Perry Jenkins, Michael Smyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objectives: This paper examines changes in life satisfaction around retirement exits for those with varying pre-retirement incomes, testing whether constraints on control and control over finances moderate the relationship between retiring and pre-retirement income.

Method: This longitudinal study draws data from the 2004-2014 waves of the HRS to examine changes in life satisfaction pre- versus post-retirement for three groups (the poor/near poor, financially vulnerable, and financially stable) of full-time workers ages 51 to 87 (N=970), and a subset (N=334) who fully retire over a four- year period.

Results: Controlling for baseline life satisfaction, health, job/demographic characteristics, and social engagement, OLS regression results show financially stable retirees report higher levels of post-retirement life satisfaction relative to their full-time working counterparts, while the poor/near poor and the financially vulnerable report similar life satisfaction to those who continue working full-time. Constraints on personal control and control over finances moderate post-retirement life satisfaction for the financially vulnerable.

Discussion: Results suggest full retirement predicts improved life satisfaction only for those most advantaged financially. Financially vulnerable older workers may adjust more effectively to retirement if they have access to resources that facilitate greater control over their lives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology: Series A
StatePublished - Sep 14 2018

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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