The article aims to provide a review of the currently most accepted models explaining transition and adjustment to retirement, which include role theory, continuity theory, life course perspective, and the resource-based dynamic model for retirement adjustment. One of the main theories explaining adaptation to retirement is role theory. This theory assumes that during the transition from one life period to another, an individual exits one role and enters a different role (George, 1993). Based on this theory, retirement can be characterized as a role transition (Riley & Riley, 1994), when a job role is weakened or even lost, and roles associated with family and community are strengthened (Barnes-Farrell, 2003). In cases when an individual’s job role is central to their identity and they are overly-engaged in their job, transition to retirement is more difficult compared to an individual who perceived their job role as more stressful, more demanding or who had experienced more conflicts with their co-workers. Transition to retirement, thus, can be experienced as a relief, where there is an opportunity to engage in family and community roles in newly-acquired leisure time (Osborne, 2012; Wang, Henkens, & Solinge, 2011a). Unlike the emphasis on role change, the continuity theory argues that retirees adapt effectively to a new life-period if they have developed relationships, activities, a framework of thinking, and adaptive skills during their previous life-period and if they continue to use them after being retired, and thereby they maintain continuity (Atchley, 1989). Research suggests that an individual can maintain continuity even through part-time employment (Feldman & Beehr, 2001) or by maintaining leisure activities (Pushkar et al., 2011) after retiring. Continuity theory, therefore, suggests that a retired person is directly responsible for creating an adaptation strategy which may help them in their transition. Life course perspective theory, on the other hand, discusses two main factors influencing retirement: a) individual history - including past life transitions, working and recreational habits (Carr & Kail 2013), and b) individual attributes - such as demographics, health and financial status and transition capabilities (Griffin & Hesketh 2008; Wang, 2007). From a life course perspective, an individual who has flexibly addressed previous life transitions, who has been less socially integrated with their job and co-workers, and who has attributes effective for retirement adaptation, will experience a smooth transition to retirement (van Solinge & Henkens 2008; Wang & Shultz, 2010; Wang, et al., 2011a). A current model explaining the adaptation to retirement is the resource-based dynamic model for retirement adjustment, which recognizes adaptation as a process that depends on individual resources and changes of these resources (Wang et al., 2011a). The resources can be defined as the overall ability of an individual to meet their needs and are divided into seven categories: a) physical resources, including health or physical strength (Jex, Wang, & Zarubin, 2007); b) cognitive resources, including, for example, work memory (Wang & Chen 2006); c) financial resources, such as wage and retirement benefits (Hobfoll, 2002); d) social resources, e.g. social networking and social support (Kim & Feldman, 2000); e) emotional resources, such as emotional stability, sensitivity, mood (Wang, Liao, Zhan, & Shi, 2011b) and f) motivational resources, e.g. self-efficacy. Adaptation to retirement is a direct consequence of an individual's access to resources. If people have more resources to meet their retirement needs, transition and adaptation to retirement will be less demanding than for people who do not have enough resources (Topa & Valero, 2017; Wang, 2007). Based on the review of these theoretical models, it can be said that an adaptation of an individual depends on the importance he or she attributed to their job role (George, 1993; Osborne, 2012), whether they were able to maintain continuity in their activities, patterns of thoughts or relationships (Atchley, 1989, Pushkar et al., 2011), how well they coped with previous transit events (van Solinge & Henkens 2008), and whether they have sufficient resources, in social, financial or health areas (Wang et al., 2011a).
During recent years, researchers and practitioners have been interested in understanding the factors which affect the transition from work to retirement. With the aim of a complex review of these factors, we have been inspired by the categorization of Wang and Schulz (2010), which was later edited in other articles (Wang et al., 2011; Wang & Hesketh, 2012). Factors in different areas (individual attributions; factors related to work before retirement; variables related to family; factors of transition to retirement, and activities after retiring) have been described and analyzed in terms of their positive or negative affect on retirement.
Individual attributions with the positive effect on retirement adjustment have been identified as: good physical and mental health (e.g. Zhan et al., 2009; Silver et al., 2016), financial status, financial goals and literacy (e.g. Lusardi & Mitchell, 2011; Noone et al., 2009; Pinquart & Schindler, 2007), as well as health-related behavior (Jex et al., 2007; Topa & Vareno, 2017). Factors related to work before retirement with a positive effect on retirement adjustment have been identified as job stress, job demands and challenges (e.g. van Solinge & Henkens, 2008; van den Bogaard et al., 2016), as well as dissatisfaction at work and unemployment before retirement (Marshall et al., 2001; Pinquart & Schindler, 2007), since all of these factors contribute to experiencing relief from previously demanding job, and thereby to a better adjustment. Equally important are the factors related to family, such as marital status (Lee, 2016; Pinquart & Schindler, 2007), the quality of marriage (Szinovacz & Davey, 2004; Wang, 2007), and work status of a partner (Moen, Kim, & Hofmeister, 2001; Wang, 2007). It has been shown that the quality of adjustment also depends on the variables related to transition, whether the retirement was voluntary (Reitzes & Mutran, 2004; van Solinge, Henkens, 2007, 2008) and whether a retiree planned how they were going to spend their retirement (e.g. Hershey et al., 2007; Steffens et al., 2016). Moreover, research has shown that it is important for a retiree to stay active and engage in various activities, whether it is a paid job (e.g. Zhan et al., 2009; Quinn, 2010), voluntary work (Dorfman & Douglas, 2005; Griffin & Hesketh, 2008) or free-time activities (e.g. Silver et. al., 2016).
Factors identified with a negative effect on transition to retirement were: health problems (Kim & Moen, 2002; Wang, 2007), identity of a work role (Reitzes & Mutran, 2004), physical job demands (Pinquart, & Schindler, 2007), number of dependent children and financial claims associated with care-giving (Kim & Feldman, 2000; Marshall et al., 2001), loss of a partner during the transition to retirement (van Solinge & Henkens, 2008) and involuntary early retirement (e.g. Dorn & Sousa-Poza, 2010; Heybroek et al., 2015).
A higher awareness of positive and risk factors of adaptation on retirement may be beneficial to helping professionals as well as to seniors themselves in their transition from work to retirement. It may be therefore recommended that retirement training programs should focus on individual research-based factors with a positive effect on adaptation; such as retirement planning, engagement in free-time activities or voluntary work. Based on the identification of risk factors for adaptation to retirement, working psychologists or various organizations, such as clubs for retirees, could focus on mitigating the negative consequences of these factors. Although it is impossible to prevent some risk factors, such as loss of a partner, it is possible to develop supportive relationships in clubs of seniors, and also to facilitate learning effective coping-strategies as part of various preventive programs.