a1 Centre for Social Policy Research, University of Bremen, Germany.
a2 The Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research and Department of Sociology (School of Social Sciences), University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.
a3 Division of Research Strategy, University College London, London, UK.
In this paper, relationships between old age, retirement and social inequalities, as marked by participation in leisure activities, are examined. Two issues are tackled: first, whether old age and particularly the transition into retirement have an effect on participation in three selected activities; and second, whether the social inequalities underlying these activities change with older age and retirement. The empirical investigation uses data from the first two waves of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), which included variables on having a hobby, being a member of a club, and an index of participation in cultural events (cinema, theatre/opera/classical music performances, museums and galleries). The different socio-economic backgrounds of different age groups explain a considerable part of the observed age differences in these activities. Longitudinal analyses show that respondents tended to continue their activities regardless of changes in work and age, with two exceptions, namely that retirement was positively related to having a hobby, and those who stopped working because of an illness experienced a significant decline in all three of the examined categories of activity. The pattern of continuity also applied to socio-economic differences in patterns of participation in leisure activities. Some indications of slightly growing inequalities with age require further investigation.
(Accepted May 24 2010)
(Online publication October 18 2010)