Retired Seniors are Struggling With a Decrease in Happiness

Despite a recent Money survey showing 48% of retirees being happier in retirement than they originally expected, seniors’ happiness levels have been steadily declining.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) released data in late April showing the decreasing level of satisfaction of life among retirees. The report is titled “Trends in Retirement Satisfaction in the United States: Fewer Having a Great Time.”

The data consisted of information from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement study. According to Time, between 1998 and 2012, the number of seniors who said they were “very satisfied” fell significantly.

Additionally, other retirees who originally said they were only “moderately satisfied” or “not satisfied at all” are increasingly feeling this way. So fewer and fewer seniors are feeling “very satisfied” with their lives.

The declining levels of happiness affect men and women, as well as all economic groups, including seniors with and without pensions.

“The drop in ‘very satisfied’ retirees is not limited to any particular economic group,” Sudipto Banerjee, author of the study, said. “This is clearly a more general trend. What’s not yet clear is exactly why this is happening.”

Other studies in the past have shown contradictory results and state that as people get older, they either stay as satisfied or even more satisfied. But the EBRI believes that to be false.

The new data does, however, show the correlation between higher life satisfaction and higher net worth and healthier living. But not everyone has the luxury of having all three of those factors align.

According to The Globe and mail, Steve Vernon, of CBS Money Watch, wrote “What’s going on here? I thought retirement was supposed to be good for you!” Vernon’s article was in response to the lower life expectancy for seniors who are retired as opposed to their working same age counterparts.

Vernon is optimistic about how to change seniors’ outlook on satisfaction, but it may require more work.

“Finding powerful reasons for getting up in the morning in my retirement years is as important as my financial planning,” Vernon said. “We may need to work a little in our retirement years to make ends meet. In this case, I won’t be bitter — working may be keeping me alive!”

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