BACKGROUND: Little is known about the effect of retirement on alcohol consumption. The objectives were to examine changes in alcohol consumption following retirement, and whether these patterns differ by gender and socioeconomic status.
METHODS AND FINDINGS: We assessed alcohol consumption annually from 5 years before to 5 years after retirement among 10,023 men and 2,361 women of the French Gazel study. Data were analyzed separately for men and women, using repeated-measures logistic regression analysis with generalized estimating equations. Five years prior to retirement, the prevalence of heavy drinking was about 16% among men, and not patterned by socioeconomic status. Among women, this prevalence was 19.5% in managers, 14.7% in intermediate occupations, and 12.8% in clerical workers. Around retirement, the estimated prevalence of heavy drinking increased in both sexes. In men, this increase was 3.1 percentage points for managers, 3.2 in intermediate occupations, 4.6 in clerical workers, and 1.3 in manual workers. In women, this increase was 6.6 percentage points among managers, 4.3 in intermediate occupations, and 3.3 among clerical workers. In men the increase around retirement was followed by a decrease over the following four years, not significant among manual workers; among women such a decrease was also observed in the non-managerial occupations. It is difficult to assess the extent to which the results observed in this cohort would hold for other working populations, other conditions of employment, or in other cultural settings. A plausible explanation for the increase in heavy drinking around retirement could be that increased leisure time after retirement provides more opportunities for drinking, and not having to work during the day after may decrease constraints on drinking.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings of increased consumption around retirement suggest that information about negative effects of alcohol consumption should be included in pre-retirement planning programs.
2011. Vol. 6, no 10, e26531- p.