UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Retired academics’ reasons for work, volunteering, and recreation Malek, Alard A.


Emeriti's activity patterns and reasons for activity demonstrated that retirement is a highly variable experience. Retirement theories, such as activity and continuity theory, present retirees as members of a population of elderly which has distant from the mainstream of life. Activity and continuity theory reflect the underlying assumptions inherent in institutionalized retirement; i.e., growing older results in decreased biological and cognitive capacity, invariant and declining activity patterns, and disinterest in a varied pattern of activities. The results of this study demonstrated that the assumptions inherent in the institution of retirement are false. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships among emeriti's patterns of work, volunteering, and recreation, their reasons for activity, and the kind of retirement. Emeriti (n=187) from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University were sampled with a mailed questionnaire. The influence of the timing of retirement and whether people wanted to retire or not was tested in relation to their reasons for activities. Activity levels in work, volunteering, and recreation were tested in relation to reasons for activity. Emeriti's activity patterns were variable. Although emeriti were most active in recreation, they participated in work and volunteering. Respondents made clear distinctions between work and non-work activities. Some activities, e.g., performing research, writing, providing skills and expertise to individuals, and serving one's community, were evident in work, volunteering, and recreation. The timing of retirement and whether people wanted to retire or not influenced peoples reasons for activities. Earlier retirement was related to opportunities for new activities and freedom from obligations. Later retirement was associated with monetary gain and continuation of career. People who wanted to retire attached greater importance to doing what they had been unable to do during their working career and freedom from obligation. People who did not want to retire attached greater importance to ongoing career activities and monetary gain. It was concluded that the timing of retirement and wanting to retire or not reflected the different meanings which people attach to work and non-work activities. Activity levels in work, volunteering, and recreation influenced the profile of reasons emeriti had for their activities. Greater levels of work activity revealed reasons which emphasized monetary gain, professional involvement, and ongoing career activities. Greater levels of volunteering activity revealed reasons which emphasized contribution to the welfare of society and the community. Greater levels of recreation activity emphasized social and community contribution and personal fulfillment. It was concluded that different activities provide different kinds of rewards. Substituting recreation or volunteering for work is therefore problematic because individuals may not be able to receive the same satisfactions from recreation or volunteering. In conclusion, the study demonstrated that retirement is a highly variable experience and is better represented by a variable model of aging. Theories of retirement, social policies, and programs should be updated to reflect current scientific knowledge about aging and the variation of behavior among older adults. This would reduce barriers imposed by retirement and provide benefits to both society and the individual. Society would benefit by retaining better access to the resources available from retirees. Retired individuals would benefit because they would retain fuller access to the opportunities available in society.

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