Monday 26 September Olga Grünwald successfully defended her thesis entitled ‘Social engagement during the retirement transition: Insights into volunteering, caregiving, and grandparenting‘.
Radical changes occurred in late-career work and retirement in the last decade. Next to increased retirement ages, employment beyond public pension age is becoming more common. This research investigates the implications of longer working lives for social engagement in the Netherlands, focusing on volunteer work, informal care, and grandchild care during the retirement transition. The findings suggest that especially the emergence of paid post-retirement jobs might reduce the participation in volunteer work of recent retirees, as the two activities compete with each other. The findings further imply that the extension of working lives will not discourage the provision of informal care, but rather may increase the share of older workers who combine paid work with informal care. Moreover, the findings demonstrate that grandparents play an active role in family life after retirement, even when they work in paid post-retirement jobs. Yet, delayed retirement due to increases in the public pension age will likely reduce the share of grandparents available for grandparenting. Taken together, this research highlights the unintended side effects of extending working lives for social engagement. As future cohorts of older workers will work longer, the combination of paid work and social engagement will continue to require the attention of policy makers, organisations, family members and older adults themselves.
This research was supported by The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (VICI-grant 453-14-001 to K. Henkens; VENI-grant 451-17-005 to M. Damman) and Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement (Netspar).
For more information see the University of Groningen website.