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Retirement Just Might Pay You a ‘Happiness Bonus’

The benefits of retiring can outweigh health and money worries

By Anne Tergesen and MarketWatch

(This article appeared previously on

Life gets better in retirement — despite the financial and physical challenges associated with that time of life. That’s the upbeat conclusion of a new poll from MassMutual Financial Group, which found that although nearly half of Americans retire sooner than they planned, “retirees indicate high levels of emotional well-being, enjoyment and financial security.”




“Even though leading up to retirement, people have fear and anxiety, they seem to really enjoy their retirement years,” says Mass Mutual executive vice president Elaine Sarsynski. Moreover, she adds, people seem to get happier as time goes by.

Based on responses from 1,817 people within 15 years of retirement (before and during), the MassMutual survey was conducted in September. Respondents had to be at least 40 and have savings or investments of at least $50,000 — a sum that’s consistent with the average 401(k) balance of boomers, according to Sarsynski.


Research by Carstensen, among others, indicates that emotional well-being improves until the 70s, when it levels off. Even centenarians “report overall high levels of well-being,” according to a 2014 study Carstensen co-wrote, which also cites extensive earlier research.


Overall, 60 percent of those responding to the MassMutual survey say they are very satisfied with their lifestyle in retirement — a finding most prevalent among those in their 70s; in good health; married or living with a partner and with at least $500,000 in assets. Those with pensions are also happier.

(MORE: Do You Worry Too Much?)



According to the new poll, retirees say retirement has given them the opportunity to:

  • Enjoy themselves (82 percent)
  • Have more free time (80 percent)
  • Have new experiences (69 percent)
  • Live a more relaxed lifestyle (66 percent)
  • Enjoy friends (65 percent)
  • Feel fulfilled (64 percent)
  • Reinvent themselves (25 percent)


Is everything perfect in retirement? Not by any means. Aside from the 31 percent who report financial uncertainty, 13 percent say they are too busy and 10 percent have developed an illness or disability.



Anne Tergesen is a staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal, covering retirement finances and planning. This article originally appeared on

Anne Tergesen is a writer for, specializing in retirement. Read More
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