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Resilience Indicators of Post Retirement Well-Being


  • Elsa Marziali
  • Peter Donahue


This study compares and contrasts criteria for determining how individuals cope with adverse life events during the aging process. From a pool of 140 interviews with older men and women who had experienced a significantly stressful life event (either widowhood or involuntary retirement), a cohort of 26 subject interviews were selected. In random order, interviews were rated on two dimensions: poor versus good financial status, and positive versus negative appraisals of stress events. Interviews continued to be rated until 13 met criteria for successful outcomes (good financial status and positive appraisals of experienced stress) and 13 more met criteria for unsuccessful outcomes (poor financial status and negative appraisals of stress). A second rater, blind to the initial classification, coded and classified the interviews on positive versus negative indicators of the availability of supportive interpersonal relationships . There was 69% agreement between the two classification systems on successful versus unsuccessful outcomes. On eight cases the raters disagreed in a consistent fashion; the first rater classified all eight cases as unsuccessful in contrast to the second rater who rated the same cases as successful. These eight cases were reassessed using an expanded coding system that targets indicators of resilience as predictors of well being. This descriptive reanalysis of the cases showed that all of the subjects were well aware of their limited financial status but had a balanced appraisal of life challenges overall. Analyses of their life narratives showed evidence of resilience (self-reliance, availability of close interpersonal relationships, accommodative modes of coping, internal control, perseverance, viewed change as a challenge, and a spiritual convergent view of mind, body, and soul in the face of adversity). In summary, while poor financial status has negative consequences for coping with major life transitions, aging individuals who are resilient and hardy and who apply a spiritual lens for understanding the meanings of adversity show greater capacity for achieving and maintaining well-being.

Suggested Citation

  • Elsa Marziali & Peter Donahue, 2001. "Resilience Indicators of Post Retirement Well-Being," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 49, McMaster University.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:sedapp:49

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ronald Lee & Jonathan Skinner, 1999. "Will Aging Baby Boomers Bust the Federal Budget?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 117-140, Winter.
    2. Denton, Frank T. & Gafni, Amiram & Spencer, Byron G., 1995. "The SHARP way to plan health care services: A description of the system and some illustrative applications in nursing human resource planning," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 125-137, June.
    3. Lee, Ronald & Tuljapurkar, Shripad, 1998. "Uncertain Demographic Futures and Social Security Finances," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 237-241, May.
    4. Frank T. Denton & Byron G. Spencer, 1999. "Population Aging and Its Economic Costs: A Survey of the Issues and Evidence," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 1, McMaster University.
    5. Ronald Lee & Shripad Tuljapurkar, 1997. "Death and Taxes: Longer life, consumption, and social security," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 34(1), pages 67-81, February.
    6. Ronald Lee & Shripad Tuljapurkar, 1998. "Stochastic Forecasts for Social Security," NBER Chapters,in: Frontiers in the Economics of Aging, pages 393-428 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Frank T. Denton & Amiram Gafni & Byron G. Spencer, 2001. "Population Change and the Requirements for Physicians: The Case of Ontario," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 27(4), pages 469-485, December.
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    More about this item


    retirement; aging;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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