Ex-household social contact amongst 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 (ex-HH) provides support beyond that available in one’s own household (in-HH), 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, defining oneself as ‘retired’ and more leisured, and entering a particular retirement ‘age’ where most partners and peers are also retired. Retirement brings more free time for socialising, but also changes one ‘community’ of friends, by ending regular contact with work friends and disrupting partner’s social patterns as retired persons spend more time at home. These events have different implications for men and women. This paper reports on the duration of time spent with exHH family/friends by retired and non-retired men and women using the Australian Time Use Survey, 2006. Results vary by how retirement is defined and operationalised, but an interaction effect between men and retirement predicting less social contact is present when a definition of retirement integrating non-work, self-defined retirement and age is used. There is a consistently strong effect of marital status on social contact, no matter how retirement is defined.