Retirement and its Discontents: New Book by Professor Michelle Pannor Silver

Why do people avoid retiring?

Professor Michelle Pannor Silver has recently published a new book “Retirement and its Discontents: Why We Won’t Stop Working, Even if We Can” that seeks to understand why people with highly accomplished careers  resist retirement or are unhappy when they do retire. Silver is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough with joint appointments in the Department of Sociology and the Interdisciplinary Centre for Health and Society (ICHS).

You can listen to Michelle speak about her new book here on the New Books Network podcast.

The publisher has this to say about her book:

In the popular imagination, retirement promises a well-deserved rest—idle days spent traveling, volunteering, pursuing hobbies, or just puttering around the house. But as the nature of work has changed, becoming not just a means of income but a major source of personal identity, many accomplished professionals struggle with discontentment in their retirement. What are we to do—individually and as a culture—when work and life experience make conventional retirement a burden rather than a reprieve?

In Retirement and Its Discontents, Michelle Pannor Silver considers how we confront the mismatch between idealized and actual retirement. She follows doctors, CEOs, elite athletes, professors, and homemakers during their transition to retirement as they struggle to recalibrate their sense of purpose and self-worth. The work ethic and passion that helped these retirees succeed can make giving in to retirement more difficult, as they confront newfound leisure time with uncertainty and guilt. Drawing on in-depth interviews that capture a range of perceptions and common concerns about what it means to be retired, Silver emphasizes the significance of creating new retirement strategies that support social connectedness and personal fulfillment while countering ageist stereotypes about productivity and employment. A richly detailed and deeply personal exploration of the challenges faced by accomplished retirees, Retirement and Its Discontents demonstrates the importance of personal identity in forging sustainable social norms around retirement and helps us to rethink some of the new challenges for aging societies.