cover image The Experience of Retirement

The Experience of Retirement

Robert S. Weiss, . . Cornell Univ., $45 (213pp) ISBN 978-0-8014-7252-7

In this sympathetic but hardly groundbreaking study, Weiss captures the middle-class transition to retirement, a stage that proves less golden than complicated, conflicted and diverse. Based on interviews with 89 retirees from professional careers who live in the Boston suburbs, the book presents much of the data in the interviewees' own words. This gives the book emotional and textual immediacy, as the retirees voice their feelings of obsolescence and social isolation and their difficulties missing the daily structure previously provided by the workplace. However, Weiss notes that volunteerism, part-time jobs, hobbies and, for some, a strong marriage can at least partially offset the social connections and sense of identity many people lose when they stop working. He contextualizes the confessional passages with sociological analysis, concluding that retirement planning requires more than just financial forethought. Preparation for the psychological and sociological toll is just as important for professionals exiting the workforce. Weiss provides no magic formulas for retirement planning, just a better understanding of the emotional pitfalls that future retirees can anticipate, and that their family, friends and colleagues can help them combat. (Nov.)