Pensions Not Necessarily Key To Retirement Happiness

April 19, 2006 ( - How much a man holds in his pension plan when he retires is less important than his physical and mental health, a new study suggests.

A study published this month in the American Journal of Psychiatry followed a group of 151 socially disadvantaged men since their youth to an average age of 75, and found that whether or not they had a happy retirement depended on having pleasant relationships, satisfaction with former jobs and enjoyable vacations – not how much they held in their pension plans.

“Retirement offers us all, especially the previously unsuccessful, a whole new lease on life,” study author Dr. George Vaillant, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, told Reuters Health.

In the study, Vaillant and his team investigated men’s reasons for retirement and the factors that determine retirement satisfaction.

Men who considered their retirement satisfying were up to three times as likely as the others to say they had enjoyable relationships, that they volunteered and that they participated in play, or hobbies, the report found.

Over half of the men said they found their retirement to be satisfying or very satisfying, and “the most surprising finding,” the researchers note, was that this satisfaction was not only found among those free from physical disability or those with large pension funds, according to the study.

Overall, about a third of the men retired at 62 or 65 years of age, with men of high occupational status tended to retire at later ages, while those with poor physical and/or mental health tended to retire early, before age 60. Men categorized as the most happily retired at age 70 – 75, included those who during their midlife years had poor work histories, depression and were unable to make friends, the report finds.