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Retirement planning in sexual minority adults

TitleRetirement planning in sexual minority adults
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsMock, S. E., and Schryer E.
InstitutionRBC Retirement Research Centre
CityWaterloo, ON

Background Retirement planning encompasses a consideration of future financial needs, lifestyle, relationships, and health and is critical for ensuring financial security and quality of life as people age. Population aging adds urgency to this topic, especially when combined with increasing longevity and uncertainty about pensions and future healthcare costs (McDonald & Donahue, 2011). In addition to this major demographic shift, there is an increasing diversity of family forms, with a significant number of Canadian families led by individuals in non-heterosexual (e.g. lesbian, gay, or bisexual) relationships (The Daily, 2012, September 19). However, we know very little about retirement planning among these diverse households. There are multiple reasons why retirement planning may differ by sexual orientation. Sexual minority adults live in a society where non-heterosexual family forms been historically stigmatized. The minority stress model (Meyer, 2003) suggests lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) adults face additional challenges of stigmatization, internalization of negative messages about LGBT identities, and burden of identity concealment that leads to negative consequences for wellbeing. Distress and diminished wellbeing have a negative impact on goal-directed behaviour in general (Emmons, 1986) and retirement planning in particular (Hershey & Mowen, 2000). Thus, compared with heterosexuals, LGB adults may face challenges and barriers to retirement planning. These barriers are likely explained by factors strongly related to cumulative disadvantage and minority stress (e.g., diminished social support, disrupted career trajectory, and diminished financial resources). Substantial research documents the benefits of social support and social integration for health and wellbeing (Thoits, 2011) and also that wellbeing and social support foster future orientation and planning. Thus, social support may be a particularly important resource for those in non-traditional living arrangements. Goals For this Collaborative Research Project our goals were to: Draw on nationally representative data to examine the nature of retirement planning (broadly defined) among diverse family forms including LGBT adults and the availability of potential resources (e.g., social support) on the retirement planning of heterosexual and LGB adults; Conduct survey research with non-retired LGBT adults to examine the potential association of identity management, identity disclosure, and experiences of homophobia with retirement planning.

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