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Everyday Mobility and Travel Activities during the first years of Retirement
Linköping University, NISAL - National Institute for the Study of Ageing and Later Life. Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Vardagsmobilitet och resande under de första åren som pensionär (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

Mobility is central to living an independent life, to participating in society, and  to maintaining well-being in later life. The point of departure in this thesis is that retirement implies changes in time-space use and interruption in routines, which influence demands and preconditions for mobility in different ways. The aim of this thesis is to explore mobility strategies and changes in mobility upon retirement and how mobility develops during the first years of retirement. A further aim is to provide knowledge of the extent to which newly retired people maintain a desired mobility based on their needs and preconditions. The thesis is empirically based on travel diaries kept by newly retired people, and qualitative interviews with the same persons, and follow-up interviews three and a half years later. The results show that mobility is a way of forming a structure in the new everyday life as retirees by getting out of the house, either just for a walk or to do errands.  Many  patterns  of everyday life remain the same upon retirement, but the informants also merge new responsibilities and seek new social arenas and activities. As a result, the importance of   the car have not changed, but it is used for other reasons than before. After leaving paid work, new space-time constraints are created which influences demands for mobility. The study further shows that “third places” become important, especially among those who live alone, as they give an opportunity to being part of a social context and a reason for getting out of the house. The follow-up interviews revealed that declining health changes the preconditions for mobility. Daily walks had to be made shorter, and the car had to be used for most errands to where they previously could walk or cycle. However, mobility can also be maintained despite a serious illness and a long period of rehabilitation.

Abstract [sv]

Mobilitet är en förutsättning för oberoende, delaktighet och välbefinnande när man åldras. Utgångspunkten i avhandlingen är att pensioneringen innebär tidsrumsliga förändringar och brott i rutiner som på olika sätt påverkar människors behov av att resa och deras förutsättningar för mobilitet. Syftet med avhandlingen är att utforska mobilitetsstrategier och förändringar i mobilitet i samband med pensioneringen samt hur mobiliteten utvecklas under de första åren som pensionär. Ambitionen är att öka kunskapen om i vilken utsträckning nya pensionärer upprätthåller en önskad mobilitet utifrån deras egna behov och förutsättningar. Avhandlingen baseras empiriskt på resedagböcker som nyblivna pensionärer har fört och kvalitativa intervjuer med samma personer, samt uppföljningsintervjuer tre och ett halvt år senare. Resultaten visar att mobiliteten är en strategi för att skapa en struktur i vardagen som pensionär genom att komma hemifrån, t.ex. för att ta en promenad eller för att uträtta ärenden. Många vardagsmönster behålls vid pensioneringen men informanterna finner också nya åtaganden och söker nya sociala arenor och aktiviteter. Betydelsen av bilen har inte förändrats men den används av andra anledningar än tidigare. Vid pensioneringen skapas andra tidsrumsliga begränsningar vilka inverkar på efterfrågan på mobilitet. Resultaten visa också att "tredje platser" blir viktiga, särskilt bland dem som lever ensamma, eftersom de ger en möjlighet att vara en del av ett socialt sammanhang och en anledning att komma hemifrån. Uppföljningsintervjuerna visade att förutsättningarna för mobilitet förändras när hälsan försämras. Promenaderna blir kortare och bilen används i högre utsträckning för de ärenden dit de tidigare kunde gå eller cykla. Men trots allvarliga sjukdomar och långa perioder av rehabilitering kan mobiliteten upprätthållas. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2016. , 99 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 671
Keyword [en]
Ageing, retirement, mobility, travel activities, place, time-geography, interviews, travel diaries, qualitative longitudinal analysis
Keyword [sv]
åldrande, pensionering, mobilitet, resande, aktivitet, plats, tidsgeografi, intervjuer, resdagböcker, kvalitativ longitudinell analys
National Category
Sociology Other Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-124664DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-124664ISBN: 978-91-7685-829-5 (Print)OAI: diva2:901895
Public defence
2016-03-11, K1, Kåkenhus, Campus Norrköping, Norrköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2016-02-09 Created: 2016-02-09 Last updated: 2016-02-17Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Time to spare: Everyday activities among newly retired people in a middle-sizedcity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Time to spare: Everyday activities among newly retired people in a middle-sizedcity
2016 (English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Retirement has recently been studied as a complex process that affects people’s lives in many different ways (Teuscher 2010; Grenier 2011; Halleröd, Örestig and Stattin 2013). Retirement implies changes in time-space use, interruption in routines and changed social patterns. Leisure activities, shopping, errands and rest are no longer determined by the working life rhythm. New time-space constraints might at the same time occur that limit the individual’s actions, such as reduced income, new or increased commitments towards children and grandchildren, involvement in associations or part-time work (Kleiber and Nimrod, 2009; Szinovacz et al., 2001; Van den Bogaard et al., 2013).

A vast amount of research from different fields has focused on the implications of retirement for wellbeing (Bender 2012; Wang 2007), adjustment (Van Solinge and Henkens 2008), identity (Teucher 2010), volunteering (Van den Bogaard, 2013) and physical activity (Lahti et al. 2011). So far, only a few studies have investigated everyday activities and timespace use among older people in general and the post-World War II generation in particular (Chatzitheochari and Arber 2011; Gauthier and Smeeding 2003). In many studies of  time-space use, the aim has been to illuminate the juggling of everyday activities that occurs and to deal with the balance between work, leisure and family (Schwanen and de Jong 2008; Kwan 2000; Scholten, Friberg and Sanden 2012). Naturally, retired people have not been included in those studies, although many older people play an important role in the lives of families with small children (Schwanen 2008) and seek supporting and leading roles as citizens (cf. Gagliardi, et al. 2007; Leinonen 2011; Liechty, Yarnal and Kerstetter 2012; McCormack et al. 2008; Nimrod and Adoni 2006; Sperazza and Banerjee 2010). Little is known about the expectations this generation has on retirement and its demands for activities. The aim of this study is therefore to explore newly retired peoples everyday activities. What activities do they take part in and where are these activities carried out? In what respect, and for what reasons, do activities change or stay the same upon retirement?

The remaining of this paper begins with a discussion of the implications of retirement on everyday activities in accordance to previous research. The time-geographical perspective and concepts used here for studying activities is then presented. That is followed by a description of methods, data and analysis, before the empirical analysis of travel diaries and qualitative interviews is given. The paper ends with a discussion of the results in relation to previous research.

National Category
Sociology Other Social Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-124661 (URN)
Available from: 2016-02-09 Created: 2016-02-09 Last updated: 2016-02-09Bibliographically approved
2. Mobility in the transition to retirement - the intertwining of transportation and everyday projects
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Mobility in the transition to retirement - the intertwining of transportation and everyday projects
2014 (English)In: Journal of Transport Geography, ISSN 0966-6923, E-ISSN 1873-1236, Vol. 38, 48-54 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Through travel diaries and interviews with newly retired urban residents in Sweden our aim was to explore (1) mobility patterns in the transition to retirement, (2) the influence of space-time restrictions and resources on mobility and (3) the meaning and embodied experience of mobility. This time-geographic study contributes with knowledge on how mobility is influenced by individual, social and geographical contexts. Illustrated by four cases, our result show that retirement changes the preconditions for mobility and creates new space-time restrictions. To spend more time on projects that were previously carried out outside working time, such as caring for grandchildren, volunteer work and household responsibilities, influenced the informants demands for mobility and choice of transport mode. However, the informants have resources that can be seen as strategies to overcome space-time restrictions. Most of the informants found it important to structure the day, to some it was vital to have something to do during the day while others enjoyed the possibility to take each day as it comes. Everyday mobility was a way of forming a structure by getting out of the house, either just for a walk or for making errands. The informants embodied experiences of mobility influenced their choice to walk and cycle for transport for the reasons of comfort, get fresh air, or simply to get out of the house. The daily mobility pattern that was established was a result of individual preferences and resources as well as negotiations with family members. We conclude that the transition to retirement is a period when new mobility patterns are considered, evaluated and practiced.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2014
Everyday mobility; Transport; Time-geography; Retirement transition; Older people
National Category
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-110496 (URN)10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2014.05.014 (DOI)000340319900005 ()
Available from: 2014-09-15 Created: 2014-09-12 Last updated: 2016-03-09Bibliographically approved
3. “I want complete freedom”: car use and everyday mobility among the newly retired
Open this publication in new window or tab >>“I want complete freedom”: car use and everyday mobility among the newly retired
2015 (English)In: European Transport Research Review, ISSN 1867-0717, E-ISSN 1866-8887, Vol. 7, no 4Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


To investigate car use among newly retired people, to explore to what extent car transport is used for everyday mobility and how it is valued in comparison to other transport modes.


The data consists of travel diaries and qualitative interviews with 24 individuals, aged between 61 and 67, living in a middle-sized Swedish city. They were recruited via the local branch of one of the main associations of pensioners, one large employer in the municipality, and through another study. The informants filled in a travel diary during 1 week that were analysed by VISUAL- TimePAcTS, an application for visualising and exploring activity diary data. The semi-structured qualitative interviews were analysed using a qualitative content analysis.


The car was used for several trips daily and often for short trips. The informants had a lot of everyday projects that they would not be able to perform if they did not have access to a car. The importance of the car does not seem to have changed upon retirement, albeit it is partly used for other reasons than before. The informant’s social context implies new space-time constraints. Commitments to family members, engagement in associations and spouses’ occupations affect how much and when they use the car, and their overall mobility.


In contrast to much research on older people’s mobility that has studied slightly older people, this study have focused on a specific group that are relatively healthy, well-off, and have the possibility to choose between different modes of transport. By combining travel diaries and qualitative interviews, we have explored how newly retired people reason as regard their travel behaviour but also how they actually travel. Although the car was used more than other transport modes, being able to walk and cycle now that they had more time as retirees was highly valued. Our results indicate that urban residents that are retiring now and in the future are a key target group in transport planning when it comes to reduce car use in favour of slow modes of transport.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Berlin/Heidelberg, 2015
Car use; Mobility; Retirement; Older people; Space-time restrictions
National Category
Transport Systems and Logistics Other Health Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-124660 (URN)10.1007/s12544-015-0180-6 (DOI)000369916800001 ()

Funding agencies:  Vinnova-Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems; Vinnova

Available from: 2016-02-09 Created: 2016-02-09 Last updated: 2016-03-08
4. Mobility changes during the first years of retirement
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Mobility changes during the first years of retirement
2016 (English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

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.

National Category
Sociology Other Social Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-124663 (URN)
Available from: 2016-02-09 Created: 2016-02-09 Last updated: 2016-02-09Bibliographically approved

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