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Diversity and Older Workers

leisure time and employment options

The analysis reported in this project examined the effects of employment in general and the effects of self-employment, particular employment policies, and recent changes in employment characteristics. The results of the analysis suggest that changes in employment status in later life encourage workers to reorganize their schedules. While some of these changes appear to benefit older adults, such as increases in civic engagement brought on by self-employment, other changes—such as switching employers past age 50—may mean decreases in personal time as the worker establishes themselves at a new workplace.

key research questions

  • How do typical employed older workers spend their “leisure” time?
  • How does this differ or change for those who are not working?
  • How does diversity in job characteristics play into the relationship between paid work time and time spent on other activities?

selected findings

  • Most of a person’s time is used on personal activities, such as grooming and sleeping, followed by leisure time. All other types of activities combined usually do not account for more than one-third of the activities reported during the day.
  • Non-workers place more emphasis on home activities, while workers spend more time on leisure activities.
  • Recent shifts between the statuses can signal a reorganization of a person’s schedule. For instance, among older adults, any of the types of change in employment characteristic (i.e., recent shifts from self-employed to employee, employee to self-employed, to a different employer, to part-time work with the same employer, return to the labor force) resulted in more time spent on their home. This suggests that older adults may place a substantial amount of emphasis on “fixing up” their home as they phase into retirement.




For questions of information regarding the Diversity and Older Workers project, or to schedule a conversation with any of the Center’s team, please contact:

617-552-9195 |


the diversity and older workers project team

Tay K. McNamara, PhD
Co-Director of Research, Secondary Data Studies 
Sloan Center on Aging & Work, Boston College