Retirement Productivity: Working, Volunteering and Caregiving in Retirement Age Baby Boomers

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University of Guelph


Studies on retirement suggest a dichotomous choice that retirees are either satisfied or dissatisfied with their retirement. However, the research suggests that baby boomers experience this stage differently than their predecessors, approaching a potential 30-year retirement with better health and a new perspective on aging and retirement. Using a Life Course framework, this study looks at a more nuanced perspective that indicates a spectrum of retiree satisfaction within the baby boomer population. Using a cluster analysis and the dataset from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, this study found that baby boomers participate in nine unique combinations of activities in retirement and that these combinations of working, caregiving and volunteering resulted in varying outcomes for health and happiness as measured by satisfaction with life, healthy aging, general physical health, general mental health, social engagement, subjective social status, financial sufficiency and financial future. In recognizing the contribution that retirement age Canadians make, this study introduced the idea of ‘retirement productivity’ to the lexicon on retirement research, encompassing the various permutations of paid and unpaid work in retirement. The results showed that with three exceptions, those who are retired are generally happier and healthier than those who are retired are generally happier than those who are not retired and working but that it depended on retirement productivity. This study looked at the possible reasons for this spectrum of satisfaction in retirement. It concluded that retirees are a heterogenous group and what they do during their retirement years is associated with their levels of health and happiness in this third stage.



Retirement, Happiness in retirement, Life Satisfaction in retirement, Life Course Theory, Caregiving in retirement, Volunteering in retirement