Women have more positive experiences in retirement but are also more stressed than men, according to a recent study by MassMutual Retirement Services.
The report found that female retirees were more likely than men to report negative emotions like frustration, sadness, nervousness and loneliness, despite the fact that they also more often have positive experiences like having new experiences and opportunities and having more time with friends.
“This came out of a survey where we were trying to find out how people’s expectations for retirement prior to retirement compared to their actual experiences in retirement,” Steve LaValley, head of research for MassMutual, told ThinkAdvisor on Tuesday. “We found people had high expectations for retirement in general and for the most part they were actually being fulfilled, although at somewhat lower levels in actual retirement.”
For example, LaValley said, respondents people thought they would be a little happier once they retired. “In reality, they were very happy, but not quite as happy as they thought they might be. Same thing on the negative side: The things that people would think of as negative, like, ‘I’m going to be bored,’ things of that nature, really were less in retirement” than they expected, he said.
Almost half of female pre-retirees said they were at least moderately stressed, compared with 38% of men. Stress fell significantly after retirement, but women still reported higher levels than male retirees: 20% versus 15%.
“What that told us is that women tend to experience both in the pre-retirement mode and the retirement mode the emotions a lot more — significantly more, in most cases — than men,” LaValley said.
He added that women have “what we would consider to be richer experiences in retirement. Women tended to more than men connect with their family and friends, even reinvent themselves, whatever that means to them individually. That may be taking up a hobby, a second career. They also just concentrated more on spending time with their friends. Those kinds of things really create the emotional ties to retirement, and those are the things that are really going to reduce your stress significantly.”
Interestingly, the report didn’t find a correlation between the level of retirement assets and emotional well-being, although respondents who had a defined contribution plan were more likely to report positive emotions than those without one.