Julian McKoy Davis is an Assistant Lecturer at the Mona Ageing & Wellness Centre at The University of the West Indies, Mona. She is a Member of the Gerontological Society of America, The Mixed Methods International Research Association and a Board Member of The National Council for Senior Citizens. Her areas of interest include Financial preparations for retirement and old age, Dementia, Social Gerontology, Elder Abuse, Caregiving and Caregiver Issues as well as Disasters and older adults. She is currently completing her PhD in Social Policy with a focus on financial preparations for old age among Jamaicans 30-80 years old.
McKoy Davis, J
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, have we prepared for old age at all? Retirement preparation and financial security among older adults in Jamaica
The literature posits that on average, persons will live 15-20 years post retirement. The term retirement is subjective and often conjures expectations of fun, relaxation, the realization of lifelong dreams and quality family time. Financial security in retirement is a key factor that determines whether one has the freedom to do as he or she reasonably wishes, without limitation by income. There are a myriad of costs to be prepared for in retirement including costs associated with ongoing or emergent chronic conditions. The challenge with retirement is that in the absence of substantial financial preparations, some retirees may fall into poverty.
Preparation for retirement was examined using the 2012 Older Persons in Jamaica dataset which was derived from a nationally representative sample of 2943 older persons. Approximately 48.0% (n = 1409) of the sample were men and 52.0% (n = 1526) were women. The majority 80.3% (n = 2358) of the respondents were categorized as being young-old (respondents who were between the ages of 60 and 80 years old). The remaining 19.7% (n = 577), were categorized as the old-old (older than 81 years). The majority of the sample 77.7% (n = 2264) reported primary level education and below as their highest level of education. Most respondents 76.1% (n = 2180) had at least one chronic condition. More than forty percent of respondents had made no preparation for retirement (43.6%). Among those who had made financial preparations for retirement, private pensions were 5.7 times more likely to be reported than among those who had not prepare. Rental of properties as part of financial preparations were 3.6 times more likely to be reported by those who had made preparation for retirement. Additionally, divorced respondents were 2.1 times more likely than those who were single or separated to have prepared for retirement.
There are a number of challenges which can significantly impact retirement prospects: inflation, the economic recession repercussions and the increased demand for health services associated with chronic health conditions inter alia. Currently 17.9% of Jamaica’s older adults are living below the poverty line. Strategic interventions are therefore imperative to improve financial literacy in the populace. This can increase interest and participation in financial preparation, reducing the chance of older adults falling into the abyss of poverty.