Household factors and support from family and friends have an impact on wellbeing in retirement.


Men whose wives who continue to work when they retire are more inclined to experience depression than those whose wives were not working. However, satisfaction with family life and emotional support from relatives is positively associated with retirees’ wellbeing.

Evidence into action

  • Evidence suggests it would be beneficial if policy makers could do more to ensure that individuals have an adequate support network around them when they retire.
  • Policy makers, employers and adult learning providers: Retirement is a significant change to circumstances and social role. Extending the working life beyond retirement age could be one way of addressing negative wellbeing associated with role change. Other evidence suggests that learning activities or volunteering can be important in maintaining wellbeing in later life and help individuals develop a post work identity. Evidence also showed that those with higher levels of education were less likely to be negatively affected by retirement. This is consistent with evidence on adult learning and wellbeing and highlights the value of lifelong learning.
  • Policy makers could consider what advice and guidance exists that helps individuals plan for their retirement in terms of wellbeing. There is a danger that costs of declining wellbeing in retirement may translate into greater pressure on health and social care services as individuals’ age further.

Exploring the Evidence: The negative effect of retirement and wives employment status on depression in men

A study by Szinovacz & Davey (2004) shows that recently retired men reported more depressive symptoms when their spouses remained in work than men whose spouses were continuously not employed or retired. Although a similar effect was not found in husbands who had been retired for longer than a year.

Source: Retirement and wellbeing