Page last updated at 00:19 GMT, Thursday, 3 December 2009

Men nearing retirement 'happier than women'

Mick Jagger and Fergie
Mick Jagger stills gets some job satisfaction at 66

People approaching retirement age find their work becomes more enjoyable, research has suggested, but the effect is greater amongst men than women.

Psychologists at Qowl , a private firm linked to the University of Portsmouth analysed the quality of working life of more than 5000 college employees.

Previous studies had found that women workers were happier than men.

However, the study shows that this difference narrows with age, and the trend reverses around the age of 60.

At this age men seem to experience a notable increase in the quality of working life, the researchers said.

However, the report said that women at or about the age of 60 report less of an increase in their quality of working life, even though they would normally be nearer retirement.

The result is that men for the first time have become happier at work than women.

Better prospects?

The researchers say the reason for the pre-retirement bounce amongst men is not clear, but suggest a range of different explanations.

As men often have jobs which allow greater flexibility, this enables them to wind down and reduce their stress as they head for retirement.

Or it could be that men can typically look forward to the prospect of higher pensions than women.

A third possible explanation is that whilst men look forward to retirement, and see it as an opportunity to spend time doing things they like; women may not relish the prospect of being at home with their husbands.

"While we are only now beginning to identify the factors that contribute to the quality of working life, this research underlines the potential benefits that might be reaped from taking action to enhance the work environment and experience for all age groups," said Dr Darren Van Laar, lead researcher at Qowl.

His team now plan to research the reasons why men find contentment at work after the age of 60, to see if the benefits can be transferred to women as well.

They also propose to explore whether levels of work satisfaction change as people adjust to working longer and retiring later.

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