Civic engagement as a retirement role for aging Americans

  • Kaskie B
  • Imhof S
  • Cavanaugh J
 et al. 
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PURPOSE: Public attention directed toward the civic engagement of retired Americans has increased considerably. The purpose of this research was to define civic engagement as a retirement role and differentiate individuals who met this role definition from other retirees. DESIGN AND METHODS: Retirees who met our definition of civic engagement were identified from a sample of 683 retired older adults living in a rural Midwestern state. Using a multinomial logistic regression analysis, we contrasted this group of engaged retirees to three other groups of retirees: (a) those who were neither working nor volunteering, (b) those who had returned to work in part-time or seasonal occupations, and (c) those who volunteered for fewer than 5 hours each week. RESULTS: The analyses indicated that individuals assigned to the group of engaged retirees were similar across 24 variables. This group of engaged retirees differed from the other groups by gender, education level, and health status; retirement motives and planning efforts; primary retirement activities; and attitudes about volunteering and returning to work. IMPLICATIONS: This research supported the contention that civic engagement could be defined as a formal retirement role, as engaged retirees differ significantly from those who volunteer less, work in noncivic roles, or do neither. Further, we resolved that associating the act of volunteering, in itself, with civic engagement may no longer be appropriate for retired older adults. The definition of civic engagement as a retirement role should also include those individuals who return to work in organizations that pursue specific civic activities.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Civic engagement
  • Older adults
  • Retirement roles
  • Volunteering

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  • Brian Kaskie

  • Sara Imhof

  • Joseph Cavanaugh

  • Kennith Culp

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