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date: 25 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The conceptualization of the life course is a function of economic, demographic, and sociocultural forces. We use Laslett’s (1989) concept of the Third Age as a framework to discuss various influences on life in the post-retirement period among contemporary Americans and consider factors likely to shape patterns of aging among the baby-boom generation. We conclude that Laslett’s idyllic dream of the Third Age characterized by an enlightened pursuit of self-fulfillment is unlikely to be fully realized. Instead, the patterns of today will include a proliferation of choices, increasing longevity, and health, but also a growing discrepancy between the haves and have-nots. For most Americans, post-retirement life will be marked by improvements in physical health and fitness if not self-understanding.

Keywords: retirement, Third Age, socioeconomic factors, health

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