Mobility changes during the first years of retirement

Mobility is an important aspect of well-being, activity and participation (WHO, 2002; Mollenkopf et al., 2005; Siren and Hakamies-Blomqvist, 2009; Ziegler and Schwanen, 2011). An important goal of urban planning is to prepare for an ageing population so that people can age actively, without being directly dependent on other people for everyday activities outside the home. Retiring from paid work is a transition in later life when people need to adjust to a new daily structure and fill the day with activities other than work (Berg et al., 2014). Retirement implies an interruption in everyday routines; there is no more travel to and from work, the individual has more time at his or her disposal and social relations with former colleagues are weakened (Berg et al., 2014). Multiple or intersecting transitions, such as when illness and retirement occur about the same time, impact on how retirement is experienced and how the individual copes with these changes in life (Grenier, 2011; Szinovacz, 2003). These experiences can be expected to have consequences for the need or ability to be mobile. The choices made during the first years of retirement may have an impact on future travel activities, so this phase of life is of central importance for transport planning and public health policymaking, aimed at promoting mobility and well-being in later life. Although mobility and travel activities are strongly influenced by habits (Bamberg et al., 2003), life-course transitions and key events influence demands for mobility and choice of travel mode as people adapt to new circumstances and learning processes (Scheiner, 2007; Lanzendorf, 2003). This paper reports findings from a qualitative longitudinal study on mobility and travel activities during the first years of retirement. The aim of the study was to explore how mobility strategies develop during the first years of retirement. The qualitative analysis is based on interviews with older people in an urban environment, during their first year of retirement and again about three years later.

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