Reconceptualizing preretirement planning: a comparison of the traditional and life span approaches
The present study compared the effects of two types of preretirement programs, a traditional and a lifestyles, on attitude toward retirement, attitudes toward planning for retirement, and interest levels for the content of the two programs for employees varying in age, gender, and occupational status at a large university in the Southeastern United States. The primary focus of the traditional program was on describing consequences to expect following retirement, such as income decline, health care costs, and alterations in social and leisure activities. In contrast, the primary focus of the lifestyles approach was on describing how one could plan ahead to address potentially undesirable consequences in the areas of financial stability, health care, or social/leisure lifestyle which might affect adjustment to retirement.
Prior to participation in the planning seminars, which contained both traditional and lifestyles program formats, males in the younger age group perceived themselves as less prepared for retirement and exhibited a more negative attitude toward retirement than did those in the older age group. Males in the younger age group demonstrated significantly more positive attitude changes following participation in the planning seminars, while males in the older age group did not. After attending these programs, younger age group males felt more prepared for retirement, perceived retirement more positively, and felt preretirement planning was more useful than they had prior to participation.
Analysis of female employees’ responses indicated that participation in the planning programs had no impact on their attitudes toward retirement and preretirement planning, regardless of their age or perceived level of preparedness.
The study also found that, as predicted, older participants were more interested in the traditional presentation than they were in the lifestyles format. In contrast, younger participants were equally interested in the traditional and lifestyles formats.
As females did not change in their attitude toward retirement or perception of how well prepared they were for retirement, the possibility was supported that current programs may not be adequately addressing the preretirement planning needs of female participants. Implications for future preretirement planning efforts are discussed.