Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Leisure Expenditures of Retired and Near-Retired Households

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Leisure Expenditures of Retired and Near-Retired Households

Article excerpt

Over the past few decades, the United States has undergone significant sociological and economic transitions. Among the many changes, several have combined to focus attention on time as an input to activities that employ goods to provide satisfaction. Studies of time use have found that, as market work-time has decreased, leisure time has increased (Juster, 1985; Stafford & Duncan, 1985). Moreover, the rate of growth in per capita leisure expenditures (227%) far exceeded the rate of growth in per capita income (138%) between 1939 and 1988 (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1989). With older Americans having greater time available to combine with purchased leisure goods (Robinson & Godbey, 1997) and purchased leisure goods becoming a larger proportion of consumer budgets, research on the relationship between retirement and leisure good expenditures is needed.

The transition to retirement forces elderly households to adjust to an altered economic environment. Permanent withdrawal from full-time market work concomitantly reduces household income and increases the time available for leisure (McConnel & Deljavan, 1983). Thus, to maximize their economic well being, retired households adjust consumption patterns to reflect these evolving constraints, defined by time and money, as well as their preferences in retirement. Other empirical studies on the retired report that retired households spend a larger proportion of their marginal dollar on leisure goods as compared to the non-retired (Rubin & Nieswiadomy's, 1994; 1995) and the preferences of retirees for leisure activities have shifted over time (Nieswiadomy & Rubin, 1995).

Of interest in the current research is our understanding about how theories of consumption help explain leisure expenditures. Often the question is asked as to how our preferences toward consumption and leisure change with age and retirement, however, very few studies focus on the effect of age and life-cycle stage have on preferences, as indicated by expenditure decisions. With a study of leisure goods expenditures, we hope to provide some insight to competing theories of consumption: the life-cycle income hypothesis and hypotheses derived from household production.

Life-cycle models indicate that consumers attempt to smooth their consumption stream over time. As one ages, consumption rises, only to fall at very late life stages. If one views consumption as a substitute to leisure then one would predict that consumption would fall in times of abundant leisure and that retirement would decrease consumption. On the other hand, since leisure time is more abundant in retirement then the demand for goods to use with that time could increase if, in fact, leisure goods and time are complementary in the production of satisfaction, as indicated by models of household production (Hatcher et al., 2000). For, when people participate in leisure activities, they simultaneously consume both time and goods. Leisure good expenditures reflect the input of goods to the production of leisure activities.

There is no doubt about the fact that leisure plays an important role in a person's life. Many empirical studies have suggested that there is a positive relationship between participation in leisure activities and life satisfaction, especially for older people (Kelly, Steinkamp & Kelly, 1987; Ragheb & Griffith, 1982; Riddick, 1985; Riddick & Daniel, 1984; Riddick & Stewart, 1994). Since leisure provides a forum for important interaction with significant others, it is crucial for one's self-concept and sense of well-being (Kelly et al., 1987). For aging persons, the nature and extent of leisure has been found to be a better predictor of life satisfaction than income, health problems, or employment status (Riddick, 1985; Riddick & Daniel, 1984). Studies on household leisure expenditures have been limited (Thomson & Tinsley, 1979; Dardis, Derrick, Lehfeld, & Wolfe, 1981; Dardis, Soberon-Ferrer, & Patro, 1994) and, with few exceptions, have not emphasized the impact of retirement on a household's leisure expenditures. …

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