The Association of Retirement with Physical and Behavioral Health

William T. Gallo

in The Oxford Handbook of Retirement

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

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 The Association of Retirement with Physical and Behavioral Health

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Retirement is a variable, often complex process whose impact on somatic and behavioral well-being likely involves such factors as the linearity and quality of the transition, its desirability, and attributes of the former job and retiree, particularly recent health trends. Yet studies have only begun to capture the intricacies of this critical life transition. This chapter surveys the scientific literature on the association between retirement and physical health and health behaviors. The section on physical health describes studies of self-assessed health, functional status, chronic conditions, biological markers of disease, and mortality, while the behavioral research section covers investigations of physical activity, alcohol use, smoking, and body weight. Research in these areas has produced a set of largely inconsistent results, owing to differences in design, measurement, and statistical methodology. Isolation of an average, population-level effect of retirement may not be achievable, given that variation in the retirement experience and its antecedents produces dissimilar health and behavioral outcomes. Future studies should therefore focus on identifying factors that distinguish groups of individuals who are most detrimentally affected by retirement.

Keywords: retirement; physical health; health behaviors

Article.  10251 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Organizational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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