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Life transitions and leisure activity engagement in later life: findings from the Consumption and Activities Mail Survey (CAMS)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 March 2017

Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging and Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA.
Department of Human Ecology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.
Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging and Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA.
Address for correspondence: Yura Lee, Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, University of Southern California, 1150 South Olive Street, Suite 1400, Los Angeles, CA 90015, USA E-mail:


This study examined engagement in leisure activities among older adults, specifically focusing on how life transition factors in later life, including retirement and marital status, are associated with leisure activity engagement using a national sample of older American men and women. We conducted multiple regression analyses with a sample of 5,405 individuals (2,318 men; 3,087 women) from the Consumption and Activities Mail Survey, a supplementary sample of the Health and Retirement Study. We analysed activity engagement in each of four domains of leisure activities: mental, physical, social and religious. Retirement status was categorised into three groups: working (referent), completely retired and partly retired. Marital status was categorised into four groups: married (referent), divorced or separated, widowed and never married. We found an overall trend of a positive relationship between retirement and leisure activity engagement, which suggests that retirement provides a chance for older adults to participate in leisure activities after withdrawal from the labour force. The overall trend of a negative relationship between non-married status and leisure activity engagement suggests that the loss or absence of a spouse may serve as a barrier to participate in leisure activities. Nevertheless, variation among retirees and non-married individuals suggests future studies should compare completely and partly retired individuals or those who are widowed, divorced or separated, or never married to elucidate distinguishable leisure activity profiles.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

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