Subjective Well-Being Across the Retirement Transition—Historical Differences and the Role of Perceived Control

Georg Henning, Dikla Segel-Karpas, Andreas Stenling, Oliver Huxhold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Given substantial cohort differences in psychosocial functioning, for example in perceived control, and ongoing pension reforms, the context of retirement has changed over the last decades. However, there is limited research on the consequences of such developments on historical differences in subjective well-being (SWB) in the retirement transition. In the present study, we investigated historical differences in change in life satisfaction and positive affect across the retirement transition. We further included perceived control as a predictor of change in well-being. Analyses were based on subsamples of retirees among three nationally representative samples of the German Ageing Survey (1996; 2002; 2008) and their respective follow-ups 6 years later. Results showed historical improvements in preretirement positive affect (i.e., later samples had higher preretirement levels). Contrastingly, earlier samples showed a larger increase in positive affect across the retirement transition compared to later samples. No historical differences were found in life satisfaction. Perceived control showed no historical improvement and did not seem to contribute to historical differences in subjective well-being. Nevertheless, we found that the association of perceived control and positive affect increased over historical time. The results showed that the historical context seems to play a role in the experience of retirement, and that it is helpful to distinguish between cognitive-evaluative and affective components of well-being. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)388-400
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology and Aging
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Aging/psychology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Retirement/psychology


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