Dissertation Abstracts

Change and Continuity of Leisure Patterns during Retirement and Old Age: Micro and Macro Aspects

Author: Avital, Dana , dana1907@gmail.com
Department: Labor Studies
University: Tel-Aviv University, Israel
Supervisor: Prof. Haya Stier
Year of completion: 2015
Language of dissertation: Hebrew

Keywords: Aging , Leisure , Retirement , Policy
Areas of Research: Leisure , Sport , Family Research


Successful aging is linked to the older population's abilities to continue taking an active part in society. The current research examined the factors that influence the changing and continuity patterns of leisure in the transition from work to retirement and during the period of old age, asking what are the factors, whether micro or macro, that influence the change or continuity of the leisure patterns of the elderly throughout the retirement period? , offering a new and completely different perspective of aging research.

The study is based on two waves (2004, 2007) of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, and includes data from 17,106 people aged 50+ from 11 European countries. Using clustered-robust logistic regression models, participation in three leisure activities was examined: sports-club activities, training classes, and volunteering. The micro explanatory variables were age, perceived health status, employment status, etc., and the macro variables were GDP per-capita, government expenditure on recreation and culture and government expenditure on welfare, as a percentage of GDP. In addition, four more models were evaluated, examined the factors that affected the likelihood to continue or stop taking part in each activity during the period 2004-2007, the purpose for doing an activity and the frequency it is done. The models were examined and based on a proposal for a theoretical model to examine leisure. In addition, a new concept was coined, "Leisure Resources" which attempts to express the degree of the individual's ability to consume leisure.

Individual-wise, the findings showed that sports activities were the most popular activities, and that retirees and men are more likely to participate in leisure activities than employed and women. Moreover, it was found that leisure in older-age is affected consistently by age increases, by the self-perception of one's health and by the number of years of education, meaning even those who don’t possess much "Leisure Resources" can still take part in leisure activities, however it is also depends on state level factors.
On the state level, it was found that the most active countries were Denmark and Sweden. In addition, the findings show that while the level of GDP mainly affected the nature of leisure participation between the different countries, the government expenditure on culture and recreation affected the likelihood of participation of different disadvantaged population groups within the country.

The main conclusion that emerges from this study is that leisure patterns are affected by both individual factors and state factors, and it is impossible to examine leisure patterns without taking both levels of analysis into account. Furthermore, it is recognized that in older-age, the individual is limited by social, health, cultural, historical and political dictates regarding his leisure patterns. At the same time, since the older population is heterogenic with different needs, one must know how to match leisure in each country to the relevant population groups (i.e. women, retirees, widowers etc.), and not relate to the group as a whole.

The study's main contribution is its integration of two points of view, micro and macro, as well as country comparisons. On the applied level, the study can contribute to correct planning of resources and time regarding retirement plans, pension and savings as well as to optimal use of free time during retirement.

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