The effects of health on adjustment to retirement

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CHAPTER 3 FACTORS INFLUENCING LIFE SATISFACTION AND ADJUSTMENT TO RETIREMENT

INTRODUCTION

The present chapter explores the factors that have been found to play an important role in life satisfaction and adjustment to retirement. These factors are many and varied, and they range from the social, economic, psychological, health, lifestyle to the belief systems of the individual (Calasanti, 1996; Cronan, 2009; Donaldson, Earl & Muratore, 2010; Edelman & Fulmer, 1990; Kim & Moen, 2001; Rothchild, 1996; Thompson, 1996). The literature that has been surveyed is based on research conducted mostly in the west especially in the United States of America. Despite the fact that the phenomenon of retirement has been around for many decades in South Africa, there is a paucity of local research in the field of retirement. Where research does exist, it is, however, haphazard.
There are both internal factors (e.g. self-efficacy) and external factors (e.g. social support) that have an influence on adjustment to retirement and the experience of life satisfaction during retirement (Havighurst & Neugarten, 1969). This assertion points to the fact that retirement does not happen in isolation but rather that it takes place within the context of other critical life events and losses such as ill health and the death of a spouse (Spiro & Kressin, 1996; Sullender, 1989). Other researchers, for example, Levinson and colleagues (1978), also pay attention to the context of retirement and are of the view that the structure of society is reflected in the individual’s life structure and will therefore influence retirement to a certain extent. As they point out:
‘The structure of society is reflected in the self and the life structure. Every man’s life gives evidence of his society’s wisdom and integration as well as the [its] conflicts, oppressions and destructiveness… A man’s particular external world presents significant meanings, feelings, identities and myths which he selectively uses and internalizes. It provides invitations to heroism, martyrdom, empty conformity, bitter and zestful struggle”. (p. 48)
Factors influencing adjustment to retirement and the experience of life satisfaction during retirement are many and varied (Calasanti, 1996; Kim & Moen, 2001; Neuhs, 1990), and they range from the expectations of what retirement entails (George & Maddox, 1977; Joubert, 1999); financial planning (Jordaan & Heystek, 1993; Swart, 1996), individual lifestyle to the environment in which a person lives (Edelman & Fulmer, 1990) among others. In his study, Fisher (1992) found that “good health, financial stability, contact with family and a general fulfillment of expectations from earlier in life” (p. 196) are used to a degree to describe life satisfaction in later life. The meaning of work and attachment to work can also influence an individual’s adjustment to retirement and the experience of life satisfaction during retirement (Sullender, 1989).
The complexity of the retirement process is the one reason why retirement is often viewed as a crisis. Part of the reason for this assertion is that retirement has been approached within the framework of a significant life event and transition, and like other life transitions, it is assumed that it generates a crisis and leads to a crisis of identity (Lipman & Osgood, 1982; McGoldrick & Cooper, 1994). Other researchers like Sullender (1989) and Theriault (1994) have compared retirement to the process of mourning. This is due to the fact that they view this as a period of loss in which people lose a meaningful and significant part of their lives namely their occupational role. For this reason, it is said that people embarking on retirement have to go through the mourning phase. Researchers such as Bosse, Spiro, & Kressin (1996) and Theriault (1994) have pointed out that the process of retirement generates a degree of anxiety especially during the period before the actual retirement. The initial view of retirement as a crisis has however, been challenged and criticised by several researchers (Atchley, 1982; Bell, 1975; Bosse et al., 1996; Bosse et al., 1991; McGoldrick & Cooper, 1994). Beck (1982) has found that leaving work does not necessarily present a negative effect on happiness and concluded that the view of retirement as a crisis has been influenced by the ideological bias according to which retirement is a crisis. This view is shared by George and Maddox (1977), who found that retirees still maintained a sense of general well-being despite the loss of the work role due to retirement. Bell (1975) also criticised the view that retirement leads to a crisis on the basis that it is rather deterministic.
In a review of research on retirement as a crisis, McBride (1976) found that the view that retirement generates a crisis is largely unsubstantiated by research. She is of the opinion that this view is predominantly based on the stereotype of the importance of the occupational role in a person’s life. It has been found in several studies that the number of people who were dissatisfied with their retirement was less than half of the total number of people. The percentage of retirees found to be unhappy ranged from 11.2%, 24% and 30-33% of those who were involved in the research studies (Beck, 1982; Bosse et al., 1991; McGoldrick & Cooper, 1994).
Although the view of retirement as a crisis has not been supported by research, findings with regard to the relationship between life satisfaction and adjustment to retirement have in general been inconsistent (Kim & Moen, 2001). Part of the contradiction could be attributed to the fact that some researchers view all retirees as a homogeneous group and do not take into account the influence of, for example, gender and race (Calasanti, 1996; Kim & Moen, 2001). Braithwaite, Gibson and Bosly-Craft (1986) attribute the contradiction to some researchers’ view that adjustment to retirement is a one-dimensional process which clearly is not.

Individual factors

An individual’s personality has been shown to play a salient and significant role in determining life satisfaction and adjustment to retirement and in achieving a sense of meaning in later life (Erikson, 1977; Neugarten & Havighurst, 1969; Sarason & Sarason, 1987). According to Erikson (1977) people who have successfully resolved the crisis of generativity versus stagnation and the crisis of ego integrity versus despair in middle and late adulthood are more likely to be satisfied with their lives and tend to adjust better to retirement than those who have not successfully resolved the relevant crises. This is because the resolution of these crises enables the individual to accept his life as it has been lived. This is opposed to those who have not resolved these crises – they are likely to start retirement with many regrets which then again influence their experience of life satisfaction and their adjustment to retirement.
Other personality factors, such as Type-A and dependent personality can also influence the experience of life satisfaction and adjustment to retirement (Sarason & Sarason, 1987).
Individuals with a Type-A personality operate under extreme pressure and demand a lot of themselves and others. Type-A personality individuals also find it difficult to relax because they feel guilty when they are relaxing. Individuals with this type of personality are likely to find retirement stressful especially as they have to give up their work related activities, and cut back on their schedules in retirement.
Personality also plays a role in help-seeking behaviour (Krause, Liang & Keith, 1990). For example, it was found that adults who are extroverted have more social contacts than those who are introverted, and typically receive more support to adjust to retirement that is essential for well-being in later life. Reis and Goldman (1993), using the five-factor personality theory comprised of the traits of neuroticism, extraversion, conscientiousness, openness, and agreeableness, have predicted that these traits have a direct or indirect influence on the life satisfaction of retirees. In their model, they predicted that the traits of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness enhance life satisfaction and have a positive indirect influence on retirement, while neuroticism tends to reduce the experience of life satisfaction and has a negative effect on the retirement situation.
Further individual factors that influence life satisfaction and adjustment to retirement range from attitudes of the individual, the ability to cope with change and the appraisal system adopted by the person. People with flexible personalities are likely to adjust better to retirement than people with rigid and inflexible personalities because they tend to adapt better to change (Atchley, 1975; Stephan, 2009). A flexible personality also influences other things, for example the ability to deal with uncertainty and to cope with change that accompanies retirement. As Atchley (1975) points out, flexible people tend to have a high tolerance for change as opposed to people with rigid personality styles that display a low tolerance for change which influence their experience of life satisfaction during retirement as well as adjustment to retirement.
Besides the role of personality, the individual’s perception of the meaning of retirement and their identification with their work role also plays a significant role in achieving life satisfaction and a successful adjustment to retirement. Retirees can perceive their retirement as either favourable or disruptive, based on whether they identify loosely or strongly with their work role (Atchley, 1982; Hornstein & Wapner, 1985; Price, 2000). There are indications that those retirees who identify strongly with their work, and still enjoy working, will come to see their retirement as a disruption. Such individuals are likely to find it difficult to adjust to retirement and will experience a loss of meaning in life which may result in a diminished life satisfaction. On the other hand, retirees who do not identify strongly with their work see retirement as a right of passage (Erdner & Guy, 1990; Hornstein & Wapner, 1985). In their study of retirees, Hornstein and Wapner (1985) found that those retirees who perceive their retirement as such are able to put finality to their working lives as opposed to those who are frustrated because they see it as an imposed disruption. Erdner and Guy (1990) came to the same conclusion in their studies with retired women. They found that women who identified strongly with their work had negative attitudes towards retirement. Thus, individuals who perceive life as a process and retirement as the continuation of the life process in another form are more likely to adjust better to retirement than individuals who see retirement as the end of their lives (Riker & Myers, 1990).
The extent to which the retired person has achieved his or her goals and the manner in which he or she retires from work also influence adjustment to retirement and the experience of life satisfaction during retirement. Jensen-Scott (1993), using Atchley’s theory of retirement, found that individuals who have not achieved their work-related goals had difficulty adjusting to retirement. However, individuals have to deal with both the internal and external factors in retirement. For example, such external factors relate to whether the retiree still has children at school (Feldman & Kim, 2000) or has achieved his or her financial goals. In her study with migrant workers, Møller (1984) found that the establishment of a home to retire to and having adequate savings was seen as being important by a majority of migrant workers. The person’s evaluation of the internal and external factors therefore has to correlate and be in harmony for them to experience life satisfaction during retirement and adjust well to retirement. There are indications that any discrepancy between the two aspects might result in decreased life satisfaction and adjustment difficulties in retirement.

Self-efficacy and self-esteem

Further factors that play a role in life satisfaction and adjustment to retirement are the individual’s self-efficacy (Bandura, 1982; Luthans, 1995; Neto, 2001; Neuhs, 1990) and self-esteem (Coleman, 1996). An individual’s self-efficacy can either be high or low, and is related to how people deal with difficult and challenging situations. Individuals with a high sense of self-efficacy are capable of doing well in challenging situations and dealing with stress (Bandura, 1978; Luthans, 1995). There are also indications that self-efficacy influences other outcomes such as recovering from surgery and goes across situations such as dealing with unemployment as well as adjustment to retirement (Eden & Aviram, 1993).
Bandura’s (1982) assertion that self-efficacy is related to the judgement of how well a person can execute courses of action to deal with prospective situations can be extended to dealing with adjustment to retirement and the experience of life satisfaction during retirement According to the concept of self-efficacy, retirees who have confidence in their personal abilities to perform a task and feel in control are likely to experience a strong sense of life satisfaction and are likely to adjust better to retirement than those retirees with a low sense of self-efficacy. This is closely associated with a person’s level of self-esteem. People with a high sense of self-esteem cope better with difficult and challenging situations, as opposed to persons who do not have confidence in their own abilities. As a result, people with less confidence are likely to encounter adjustment problems in retirement and are also likely to experience lower levels of life satisfaction. This is based on the observation of the reciprocal relationship between self-esteem and life satisfaction (Neto, 2001; Neuhs, 1990). In this case, self-esteem can be both the cause and the effect of life satisfaction (Neto, 2001). The view is consistent with Armstrong-Stassen’s (1994) assertion that people with an optimistic outlook and a strong sense of mastery cope better with taxing demands that are placed on them than pessimists and people who feel powerless to do anything about their situation.

Attribution style

A further factor that could be used to explain the experience of life satisfaction during retirement and adjustment to retirement is the attributions and self-comparison used by individuals in interpreting their situation (Coleman, 1996). Attribution styles are to a large extent influenced by the individual’s locus of control. An individual can have either an internal or an external locus of control. Individuals with an internal locus of control feel in control of their situation and attribute success and failure to their abilities and efforts. On the other hand, individuals with an external locus of control see themselves as being at the mercy of the environment and sometimes attribute success as being a function of luck and chance (Abramson, Seligman & Teasdale, 1978). As pointed out by Lavalle, Grove and Gordon (1997) and Van Solinge (2008), people who retired voluntarily and had high internal attribution were more satisfied with their retirement and adjusted better to retirement than individuals who retired involuntarily. Thus, attribution plays an important role in the experience of satisfaction with life and adjusting to and coping with retirement.
According to Coleman (1996), the elderly cope better with threats to their lives through attributing failure to external factors and comparing themselves with those doing less well. These findings are similar to that of Heidrich and Ryff (1993), who found that the elderly often engage in social comparison and look at someone who is worse off than they are. In their study on the effects of social comparison and adjustment to aging Rickabaugh and Tomlinson-Keasey (1997) found that subjects who use downward social comparison shows that personal growth and maturity have an increased level of optimism and life satisfaction.
The above discussion is supported by Gibson (1982), Papalia, Camp and Feldman (1996) and Richardson (1999). Papalia and colleagues (1996) reported that more than 90 percent of the elderly in developing countries are not in a position to meet their basic needs. Despite this, however, they were found to be content with their lives. Gibson (1982) found that blacks have more staying power than whites despite their low economic status. She attributes this to the fact that blacks use prayer more, and they have a variety of informal support networks available to them. Richardson (1999) points out those African-Americans adjust well despite their adversity. The reasons for their adjustment are not clearly stated by Richardson. It can be speculated that the elderly are not complaining because they see themselves as being in a fortunate position just to be alive. Another reason could be that the elderly do not complain about their life situation because they have resigned to their situation, and have adapted to what they cannot change (Ryff, 1989). This implies that there are factors that play a role in the adjustment to retirement that have not been unearthed as yet.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
SUMMARY
CHAPTER 1 PROBLEM STATEMENT AND DEFINITION OF TERMS
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 MIGRATION: THE SOUTH AFRICAN SITUATION
1.3 THE MIGRANT WORKER AND THE FAMILY LIFE CYCLE
1.4 RETIREMENTN OF MIGRANT WORKERS
1.5 DEFINITION OF TERMS
1.6 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.7 AIM OF THE STUDY
1.8 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 2 THEORETICAL BACKGROUND TO RETIREMENT
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 CONCEPTION OF RETIREMENT
2.3 THEORIES OF RETIREMENT
2.4 DEVELOPMENTAL THEORIES
2.5 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 3 FACTORS INFLUENCING LIFE SATISFACTION AND ADJUSTMENT TO RETIREMENT
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 Individual factors
3.3 Self-efficacy and self-esteem
3.4 Attribution style
3.5 Situational factors
3.6 Occupational and educational factors
3.7 Retirement planning
3.8 Ethnicity
3.9 Family factors and retirement
3.10 Effects of HIV/AIDS on retirement
3.11 The effects of health on adjustment to retirement
3.12 Occupational demands and health risks
3.13 Occupational health service
3.14 Occupational hazards
3.15 Mining industry
3.16 Agriculture
3.17 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 HYPOTHESES
4.3 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 5 RESEARCH DESIGN AND SAMPLING
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 METHOD OF DATA COLLECTION
5.4 SAMPLING
5.5 STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF THE DATA
5.6 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 6 RESULTS AND STATISTICAL ANALYSIS
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 DESCRIPTIVE STATISTICS OF THE SAMPLE
6.3 INTERVIEW SCHEDULE
6.4 RESULTS OF HYPOTHESES TESTING
6.5 RESULTS OF HYPOTHESES TESTING
6.6 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 7
7.1 DISCUSSION OF RESULTS
7.2 THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVE
7.3 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 8 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
8.1 INTRODUCTION
8.2 RECOMMENDATIONS
8.3 FINAL CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
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