Variations on a Retirement Theme: Conceptual and Operational Definitions of Retirement

Terry A. Beehr and Nathan A. Bowling

in The Oxford Handbook of Retirement

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199746521
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Variations on a Retirement Theme: Conceptual and Operational Definitions of Retirement

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Retirement is a complex process. First, it takes place over a period of time that may consist of three phases: older employees simply imagining the possibility of retirement, assessing when it is time to let go of the job, and actually transitioning into retirement (Feldman & Beehr, 2011 ). Second, research has measured or operationalized retirement in a variety of ways, which partly reflects the fact that there are different types of retirement. Eight ways that research has measured retirement are (1) nonparticipation in the labor force, (2) reduction in hours worked and/or earning, (3) hours worked or earnings below a minimum cutoff, (4) receipt of retirement/pension income, (5) exit from one’s main employer, (6) change of career or employment later in life, (7) self-assessed retirement, and (8) some combination of the preceding seven operationalizations (Denton & Spencer, 2009 ). Some of these retirement measures have been used frequently and others more sparingly, and research is still needed that will determine the degree to which the different forms of retirement matter. That is, to what extent are they predicted by the same causes, and do they predict the same outcomes?

Keywords: retirement; measurement; bridge employment; retirement phases; retirement types

Article.  10643 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Organizational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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