The Differential Impact of Retirement on Informal Caregiving, Volunteering, and Grandparenting: Results of a Three-Year Panel Study

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Abstract

Objectives
Research on retirees’ engagement in informal caregiving, formal volunteering, and grandparenting often views retirement as a permanent exit from the workforce. Retirement processes are, however, increasingly diverse: some retire fully while others remain in paid work after retirement from a career job. A relevant but understudied question is how these different retirement processes relate to changes in engagement in unpaid productive activities. Building on role theory, we hypothesize that full and working retirees face different consequences of retirement and, therefore, differ in engagement in unpaid productive activities.
Methods
We analyze data that were collected in 2015 and 2018 among 4,882 Dutch individuals aged 60-65 and employed at baseline. Around half had fully retired at follow-up and ten percent worked after their retirement. At follow-up, more respondents are regularly volunteering (from 17% to 27%) and grandparenting (from 39% to 53%) than at baseline, while caregiving remains rather stable (from 33% to 30%).
Results
Conditional change models show that full retirement is associated with an increased likelihood of volunteering and grandparenting, but not caregiving. Engagement in post-retirement work is related to an increased likelihood of looking after the grandchildren, but not to volunteering or providing informal care.
Discussion
Our findings suggest that volunteering is important for replacing weak ties after full retirement, while grandparenting might be a new, central role in retirement – irrespective of work engagement. Retirees seem to engage in unpaid productive activities for different reasons.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbergbaa221
Pages (from-to)607-619
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology, Series B
Volume76
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 08 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • unpaid productive activities
  • post-retirement work
  • retirement transition

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