Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Defined Benefit Plans, Voluntary Retirement Major Factors in Retiree Happiness

According to the study "What Makes Retirees Happy", by Keith Bender and Natalia Jivan for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, the happiest retirees have a defined-benefits package that provides a lifetime annuity. However, more importantly, the happiest retirees are those who retired voluntarily. With or without money, those forced to retire because they lost jobs or got sick are far less happy:
If individuals say that they voluntarily retired, they express much higher levels of well-being compared to those who did not voluntarily retire. It is likely that if they retired before they had expected to, they may not have completed financial or psychological preparations for retirement, leading to lower wellbeing in retirement. Indeed, the effects of involuntary retirement may actually be greater than reported here since the involuntarily retired also have lower levels of income which would decrease satisfaction even further. The second major factor is health. Unsurprisingly, those with poor health also experience dramatically lower levels of well-being. Although neither of these factors is controllable from a policy point of view, they do indicate areas where more research could be done to help assure higher levels of well-being for retirees.
Source: "What Makes Retirees Happy?" Center for Retirement Research Issues Brief (February 2005)

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