Masters Thesis

Older Adults and Alcohol Use: The Impact of Retirement and Previous Work Experience

This study examines the relationship between previous work experience and alcohol use after retirement. Stress-coping theory and role theory suggest that major life transitions can contribute to changes in alcohol consumption, but most investigations into this relationship have been limited to younger and middle-aged adults. Retirement is one of the most significant life changes, but research is mixed on the impact of retirement on alcohol use. Using data from the first two waves of the Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) and National Study of Daily Experiences (NSDE), this study examines the prior work experience and subsequent drinking changes in middle-aged and older retirees. Overall, participants maintained their usual levels of drinking after retirement and results suggest that work-related variables, such as work pride, coworker support, supervisor support, skill discretion, decision authority, and workplace demands were not significant predictors of changes in alcohol consumption in retirement. Despite the expectation that people who were working longer hours and experiencing more workrelated stress during employment would be more likely to drink post-retirement, results did not uphold these hypotheses. Findings suggest that work-related factors do not influence drinking status changes following retirement, but additional research is needed to fully understand the possible differences between cohorts as well as to explore other important contributing variables.

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