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Changes in subjective well-being with retirement: assessing savings adequacy

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Does retirement represent a state of relative prosperity or unanticipated hardship? To assess whether individuals are successful in smoothing their well-being across the transition to retirement we analyse measures of subjective well-being (SWB) in the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. Specifically, this research examines retirees’ current standard of living, financial security and overall happiness relative to their pre-retirement levels. It is found SWB either improves or remains constant for the large majority of individuals as they retire from the labour force. However, there are significant disparities in changes in well-being with retirement among the group of retirees. In particular, the subset of individuals who are forced to retire early due to job loss or their own health, and who find their income in retirement to be much less than expected, report marked declines in their SWB with retirement.

Keywords: D91; I31; J26; expectations; retirement; subjective well being; welfare

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: School of Economics, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia 2: Faculty of Business, Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Publication date: December 1, 2013

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