Partners’ adjustment to older workers’ retirement: testing the role of preretirement expectations in a 10-year panel study

Marleen Damman, Dikla Segel-Karpas, Kène Henkens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Retirement is not only an important later-life transition for the retiring individual, but also for his or her life partner. This study aims to improve our understanding of the partner’s adjustment to the retirement of the older worker, by paying attention to the multidimensional nature of adjustment, and by examining to what extent preretirement expectations are predictive of postretirement experiences. Well-established adjustment predictors–i.e. preretirement resources and characteristics of the work and retirement context–are also taken into account. Method: Analyses are based on Dutch three-wave multi-actor panel data, collected between 2001 and 2011 among 724 partners of older workers who transitioned into retirement during the course of the study. Results: Only a minority of the partners reported adjustment difficulties to the retirement of the employee. About 20 percent reported at least some financial problems, 8 percent reported relationship problems, and 10 percent reported problems with shared leisure time. Expected problems in all three domains were predictive of experienced problems in the same domain. For expected financial problems, a cross-over effect was observed: expected financial problems were also predictive of experienced adjustment difficulties with regards to shared leisure activities. Conclusion: Not only the older worker, but also the partner develops expectations on different dimensions about the shared postretirement future, and these expectations are related to postretirement experiences. Retirement counseling may therefore not only be relevant for older workers, but also for their partners, and needs to take the multidimensional character of retirement processes into account.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1555-1561
Number of pages7
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2 Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Adjustment
  • couples
  • multi-actor
  • retirement process

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Gerontology
  • Psychiatric Mental Health


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