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Education, skills determine quality of life in older age, says study

Professionals more likely to continue working in a part-time capacity and those who with disjointed careers more likely to continue to work in some capacity, such as in self- employment

education Updated: Jan 26, 2018 20:01 IST
A study has found It was found that pathways to retirement and experiences of retirement differ greatly according to profession, gender, class and education.
A study has found It was found that pathways to retirement and experiences of retirement differ greatly according to profession, gender, class and education.(Getty Images)

London Scientists have found that raising your level of education and skills during your working life are key factors in determining your quality of life in retirement and older age.

The study, published in the Journal of Vocational Behaviour, involved interviewing around 50 retirees from a range of different professions and educational backgrounds.

It was found that pathways to retirement and experiences of retirement differed greatly according to profession, gender, class and education.

The researchers from the University of Birmingham in the UK identified six groups of workers, including the professionals, delayed professionals, those who had disjointed careers, mid-career transformation, administrative careers and semi-skilled careers.

Experiences of retirement differed greatly according to which group workers fell into.

For example, it was found the professionals were more likely to continue working in a part-time capacity (though not for financial gain), while those who had disjointed careers were more likely to continue to work in some capacity, such as in self- employment with retirement not an option to them.

Meanwhile, those who had administrative careers retired from paid employment but were more likely to stay busy with activities such as helping family and doing volunteering.

The study showed the importance of external factors throughout working life, such as employment, family caring history, social networks and cultural capital (including education) and physical and mental health in younger and middle ages.

The research also identified a link between gender and class. For example, men and women with similar career histories shared similar retirement expectations and experiences, but this relationship was mediated by factors such as gender and class, as well as access to resources.

“All of these factors are interlinked, so financial resources can give individuals greater access to social and cultural resources and help maintain physical health,” said Joanne Duberley, from the University of Birmingham.

“While education shapes careers and helps people to amass financial capital. As such these interlinkages can mean that inequalities in the initial distribution of resources are reinforced, facilitating those in a privileged position and constrain those who are disadvantaged,” Duberley said.

The researchers identified a range of differing perspectives and feelings about retirement within each group.

For example, those who had long professional careers were more likely to be optimistic and contented in retirement.

“One retiree who had had a professional career used their retirement to set up a cheese making business, something they could afford to do and had the time to do only in their retirement. They saw retirement as an opportunity,” Duberley said.

“In contrast, those who did not embark on professional careers until later in their lives, due to factors such as their earlier caring responsibilities, were more ambivalent about retirement, fearing the loss of work-related identities and financial insecurity,” Duberley said.

The study found those who followed disjointed career paths with periods in and out of work and in different types of employment, including self-employment, could also face financial instability in retirement.

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