The golden years?: social isolation among retired men and women in Australia
Social contact beyond partners and co-residents is vital for wellbeing in old age. Besides the obvious benefit to life quality, broader contact with family and friends who live outside the household provides support beyond that available in one's own household, particularly in circumstances of relationship breakdown or death of a spouse. However, broader social contacts are likely to be disrupted by retirement. Retirement is difficult to define, incorporating aspects such as ending work and gaining more free time for socialising; defining oneself as 'retired' and more leisured; and entering a particular 'retirement age' where contact with work colleagues is reduced (particularly among men), and more time is spent with partners and peers who are also retired (particularly among women). This paper uses data from the Australian General Social Survey, 2006, and the Australian Time Use Survey, 2006 and finds that retired men spend less time with family and friends outside of the household than men who are not retired. For retired women, the opposite pattern emerges, as they report spending more time with family and friends who live outside of the household compared to women who are not retired.