Everyday mobility and travel activities during the first years of retirement

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Kerstin Westin

Mobility is central to living an independent life, to participating in society, and to maintaining well-being in later life. The point of departure in this thesis is that retirement implies changes in time-space use and interruption in routines, which influence demands and preconditions for mobility in different ways.  The aim of this thesis is to explore mobility strategies and changes in mobility upon retirement and how mobility develops during the first years of retirement. A further aim is to provide knowledge of the extent to which newly retired people maintain a desired mobility based on their needs and preconditions. The thesis is empirically based on travel diaries kept by newly retired people, and qualitative interviews with the same persons, and follow-up interviews three and a half years later. The results show that mobility is a way of forming a structure in the new everyday life as retirees by getting out of the house, either just for a walk or to do errands. Many patterns of everyday life remain the same upon retirement, but the informants also merge new responsibilities and seek new social arenas and activities. As a result, the importance of the car have not changed, but it is used for other reasons than before. After leaving paid work, new space-time constraints are created which influences demands for mobility. The study further shows that “third places” become important, especially among those who live alone, as they give an opportunity to being part of a social context and a reason for getting out of the house. The follow-up interviews revealed that declining health changes the preconditions for mobility. Daily walks had to be made shorter, and the car had to be used for most errands to where they previously could walk or cycle. However, mobility can also be maintained despite a serious illness and a long period of rehabilitation.

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