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The bucket list effect: Why leisure goals are often deferred until retirement


Freund, Alexandra M (2020). The bucket list effect: Why leisure goals are often deferred until retirement. American Psychologist, 75(4):499-510.

Abstract

The central argument of this article is that historical changes in longevity in Western societies, globalization, and the weakening of social expectations regarding the timing of developmental goals lead to a compression of the time for pursuing highly demanding developmental goals related to work and family in late young and middle adulthood. The expectation of longevity might lead adults to construct a "bucket list," postponing important leisure and social goals to the postretirement phase. Jointly, the weakening of age-related social expectations and the long postretirement phase in Western societies might result in a stronger segregation of the life course: education in "emerging adulthood," work and family in later young and middle adulthood, leisure and social goals in later adulthood. This segregation also conforms to a Western cultural script following the Protestant work ethic of delaying gratification by pursuing obligatory goals first (work, family) and only then turn to "play" after retirement (leisure, social goals), a time with relatively few obligations and social expectations. The segmentation of the life course has implications for self-regulatory demands, such that the importance of goal selection increases in emerging adulthood, the importance of managing multiple goals in late young and middle adulthood, and the importance of self-regulation for the pursuit of ill-defined goals in old age. Taken together, historical changes in the increased life expectancy in Western countries and weakened age-related expectations represent a challenge and an opportunity for developmental regulation. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

Abstract

The central argument of this article is that historical changes in longevity in Western societies, globalization, and the weakening of social expectations regarding the timing of developmental goals lead to a compression of the time for pursuing highly demanding developmental goals related to work and family in late young and middle adulthood. The expectation of longevity might lead adults to construct a "bucket list," postponing important leisure and social goals to the postretirement phase. Jointly, the weakening of age-related social expectations and the long postretirement phase in Western societies might result in a stronger segregation of the life course: education in "emerging adulthood," work and family in later young and middle adulthood, leisure and social goals in later adulthood. This segregation also conforms to a Western cultural script following the Protestant work ethic of delaying gratification by pursuing obligatory goals first (work, family) and only then turn to "play" after retirement (leisure, social goals), a time with relatively few obligations and social expectations. The segmentation of the life course has implications for self-regulatory demands, such that the importance of goal selection increases in emerging adulthood, the importance of managing multiple goals in late young and middle adulthood, and the importance of self-regulation for the pursuit of ill-defined goals in old age. Taken together, historical changes in the increased life expectancy in Western countries and weakened age-related expectations represent a challenge and an opportunity for developmental regulation. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > General Psychology
Language:English
Date:2020
Deposited On:13 Oct 2020 12:48
Last Modified:14 Oct 2020 20:00
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:0003-066X
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0000617
PubMed ID:32378945

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