Older Adults Place Greater Importance Than Younger Adults on a Purposeful Retirement

Patrick L. Hill, Rachel D. Best, Gabrielle N. Pfund, M. Teresa Cardador, Victor J. Strecher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Regarding retirement, some but not all people decline in sense of purpose, and retirees may view maintaining a sense of purpose as nonessential. These findings suggest individual differences both in the importance placed on being purposeful during retirement in general and the discrepancy for purpose importance prior to and during retirement. Method: This study surveyed U.S. adults (n = 2009, Mage = 48.51) asking them about how they viewed having a purpose in two life stages: before and during retirement, as well as personality and demographic questions. Results: Findings suggest that, overall, people believe it is important to have a purpose and direction during retirement. This tendency was greater among older adults, and those higher on conscientiousness or lower on neuroticism. However, working status did not play a role in the perceived importance of purpose during the retirement period. Moreover, age differentiated who perceives during-retirement purpose as more important than prior-to-retirement purpose. Conclusion: The current findings add to our understanding of when individuals expect to be purposeful and counter the claims that older adults may place less importance on being purposeful. Instead, these findings point to the need for continuing work on how to help older adults maintain or find a purpose in life following retirement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • personality
  • retirement
  • retirement planning
  • wellbeing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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