Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Retirement Time

By Tim Olds

Retirement is fun, but is it because you do what you like or because you like what you do?

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The great life transitions – going to school, starting work, cohabiting, having children, empty nest – all involve forced changes in how we use our time. The mother of a small child is no longer free to go to the gym, let alone sleep in. When children leave home (these days I should say if), parents are freed from the requirement to tidy up after them, chauffeur them from place to place, and cook their dinners. They just keep paying for them.

But no life transition affects time use as much as retirement. One day you will wake up and realise that you no longer need to spend an hour travelling to work, 8 hours chained to your machinery or your desk, and another hour getting back. One of the great ironies of retirement is that just when you are about to enter a realm where time is in almost infinite supply, your colleagues give you a watch.

We followed 139 sexagenarians as they went through the retirement transition. As you would expect, the nature of their days changed. For a start, they did less work (about 2 hours less each day, averaged across the week). That doesn’t count swapping work activities (such as sitting and talking in office meetings) for similar non-work activities (such as sitting and talking at home). They also spent about half an hour less travelling. The time void was filled in by more more chores (1 hour), more sleep (half an hour), more...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.