Retirement is the point where a person stops employment completely. A person may also semi-retire by reducing work hours.
An increasing number of individuals are choosing to put off this point of total retirement, by selecting to exist in the emerging state of Pre-tirement.
Many people choose to retire when they are eligible for private or public pension benefits, although some are forced to retire when physical conditions no longer allow the person to work any longer (by illness or accident) or as a result of legislation concerning their position. In most countries, the idea of retirement is of recent origin, being introduced during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Previously, low life expectancy and the absence of pension arrangements meant that most workers continued to work until death. Germany was the first country to introduce retirement, in 1889.
Nowadays, most developed countries have systems to provide pensions on retirement in old age, which may be sponsored by employers and/or the state. In many poorer countries, support for the old is still mainly provided through the family. Today, retirement with a pension is considered a right of the worker in many societies, and hard ideological, social, cultural and political battles have been fought over whether this is a right. In many western countries this right is mentioned in national constitutions.
Life after retirement
Retirement might coincide with important life changes; a retired worker might move to a new location, for example a retirement community, thereby having less frequent contact with their previous social context and adopting a new lifestyle. Often retirees volunteer for charities and other community organizations. Tourism is a common marker of retirement and for some becomes a way of life, such as for so-called grey nomads. Some retired people even choose to go and live in warmer climates in what is known as retirement migration.
It has been found that Americans have six lifestyle choices as they age: continuing to work full-time, continuing to work part-time, retiring from work and becoming engaged in a variety of leisure activities, retiring from work and becoming involved in a variety of recreational and leisure activities, retiring from work and later returning to work part-time, and retiring from work and later returning to work full-time. An important note to make from these lifestyle definitions are that four of the six involve working. America is facing an important demographic change in that the Baby Boomer generation is now reaching retirement age. This poses two challenges: whether there will be a sufficient number of skilled workers in the work force, and whether the current pension programs will be sufficient to support the growing number of retired people. The reasons that some people choose to never retire, or to return to work after retiring include not only the difficulty of planning for retirement but also wages and fringe benefits, expenditure of physical and mental energy, production of goods and services, social interaction, and social status may interact to influence an individual’s work force participation decision.
Often retirees are called upon to care for grandchildren and occasionally aged parents. For many it gives them more time to devote to a hobby or sport such as golf or sailing. On the other hand, many retirees feel restless and suffer from depression as a result of their new situation. Although it is not scientifically possible to directly show that retirement either causes or contributes to depression, the newly retired are one of the most vulnerable societal groups when it comes to depression most likely due to confluence of increasing age and deteriorating health status. Retirement coincides with deterioration of one's health that correlates with increasing age and this likely plays a major role in increased rates of depression in retirees. Longitudinal and cross-sectional studies have shown that healthy elderly and retired people are as happy or happier and have an equal quality of life as they age as compared to younger employed adults, therefore retirement in and of itself is not likely to contribute to development of depression.
Many people in the later years of their lives, due to failing health, require assistance, sometimes in extremely expensive treatments – in some countries – being provided in a nursing home. Those who need care, but are not in need of constant assistance, may choose to live in a retirement home.