Retirement and Social Engagement in the French Gazel Cohort

Erika L. Sabbath, Harvard School of Public Health

Social engagement is a powerful predictor of health and mortality but is seldom studied relative to retirement. We tested associations between retirement and engagement in a cohort of 13,079 French utility workers. Three dimensions of engagement were measured in 1991 and in 2004—social ties, membership in six types of organizations, and active participation in those organizations. Approximately 80% of participants retired between 1991-2004. We plotted levels of each dimension of engagement in 2004 by years until or since retirement that year, stratifying by pre-retirement engagement, gender, and engagement subtype. We found that although engagement varies by time before or since retirement, there is little evidence suggesting that retirement caused change. We calculated difference in engagement between 1991-2004, comparing sociodemographics of top and bottom deciles. Men were more likely than women to lose informal social ties, but more likely to strengthen formal ties. Pre-retirement engagement most strongly predicted post-retirement engagement.

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Presented in Session 16: Work, Leisure and Time Use at Older Ages