Research finds retirement brings a stronger sense of wellbeing

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Retirees have a higher sense of wellbeing compared to the general population. That’s the finding of the latest Australian Unity Wellbeing Index survey checking on Australian’s satisfaction with their lives.

The survey, conducted by Deakin University, examines the influence of retirement on Australians’ personal wellbeing. It discovered that retirees reported their wellbeing, on average, at more than 80 points—‘significantly higher’ than non-retirees at 76 points.

The exception was for ‘health’, which makes sense considering that health is often linked to ageing. On ‘personal safety’, retirees were ranked at a similar level to non-retirees.

Overall, results suggest that Australian retirees are generally feeling more content and satisfied with their lives than those not retired.

Happiest Australians

Associate Professor Delyse Hutchinson from Deakin’s School of Psychology, says that while the survey doesn’t examine reasons for the responses, personal wellbeing appears to increase with age. Some of the happiest Australians are aged 65 and over.

“It would seem that retirees’ wellbeing is closely connected to their relationships and interactions with others”, she says. ‘This positive connection with others would tend to offset their lower satisfaction with “health”, which declines as age-related ailments set in’.

Further, the research discovered that those living in regional areas had greater wellbeing and higher levels of overall life satisfaction compared to those in metropolitan areas. Retirees in country areas scored higher on ‘community connectedness’, ‘personal safety’, and ‘future security’.

‘It appears that people in regional areas feel more connected to, and safer in, their local communities, which is in turn linked to improved life satisfaction,’ reports Associate Professor Hutchinson.

Predicting wellbeing

The survey findings also identified factors that predict wellbeing in retirement and that may have the potential to offset the decrease in wellbeing.

For those transitioning into retirement, promoting wellbeing through ‘achieving in life’, ‘personal relationships’ and ‘personal safety’ is likely to promote higher wellbeing in retirement.

‘As individuals remain in retirement and continue to age, promoting wellbeing through “health”, “personal safety” and “community connectedness” becomes more critical’, she says.

It comes back to taking a whole-of-life approach to retirement to get the best out of life in the retirement zone.

Bruce Manners: the author of Retirement Ready?, Refusing to Retire, and founder of

Category: Emotional Health, Planning, Wellbeing

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