Retirement, Children, and Later-Life Mental Health among Older Americans

Cheng Cheng, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Past research has typically investigated the health effects of retirement and children separately. Few studies have examined how retirement and children may each uniquely and interactively affect the psychological well-being of older Americans. Using the Health and Retirement Study, this paper examines how the relationship between retirement and later-life mental health may depend on the presence of, and perceived future support from, children. Results indicate that there is no significant difference between retirees and workers in reported number of depressive symptoms; for women, childlessness and lack of perceived future support from children are associated with more depressive symptoms; for men, the presence of, and perceived support from, children help to lower the chances for depressive symptoms only for non-retirees. In light of projected delays in retirement and increasing childlessness, this study underscores the importance of promoting supportive relationships between elderly parents and their children for better later-life mental well-being.

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Presented in Session 209: Family Influences on Health and Mortality