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FACTORS INFLUENCING HEALTH STATUS OF PUBLIC SERVICE RETIREES

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study’

The life span of an individual is divided into three phases, in which retirement is one. The first phase is the period of birth up to the time of schooling or training before employment. The second phase is the period of work in which an individual is expected to engage in daily activities (work) to earn a living. The third phase is the period of retirement. This is the point of severance from work, which falls under the realm of disengagement theory in social gerontology (Quadagno, 2002). From the submission above, it could be deduced that retirement is a major condition through which individuals gradually relinquish roles and position within the social milieu. Generally, the inevitability of ageing has made retirement a natural and normal phenomenon in the world of employment. The importance of work lies in the fact that it determines the social and economic status of an individual, influences philosophy, attitude, dressing, behaviour and belief of an individual; while from the position of Aikhoje (2013), work is compulsory. However, despite the magnitude of work to individuals and wellness of the society in general, work is exhaustible to individuals, therefore, workers must disengage from work. Retirement is, therefore, a stage in life that is normal for any paid worker that did not die in active service but voluntarily or by government’s policy disengaged from active service. Within the last two decades, observation and forage into literature attest to increase in the number of older persons, individuals at age 60 years and above (United Nations, 2002). This has necessitated interest on issues that concern this population group (older persons) in general. Perhaps, this increase can be attributed to scientific and technological breakthrough, especially in the health sector that has made human beings to live longer more than ever before (Quadagno, 2002). The increasing number of older persons has evidently shown direct consequence, on the number of retirees in the formal sector of the world economies. Comfortable life for retirees in Nigeria is fast becoming a mirage, owing to irregular payment of retirement benefits, (gratuity and pension) and continued increase in the number of retirees (Aikhoje 2013). Retirees in Nigeria are suffering from myriad of functional 2 incapabilities and socio-economic inadequacies. This is evident from scholars (Aham, 2008; Obi, 2011; and Zowan, 2012), who argued that owing to inadequate payment of retirement benefits, functional wellbeing characterised by basic necessity of life such as food, accommodation and clothing have become cumbersome for retirees and have occasioned poor health status among retirees. The situation is precarious owing to the fact that there is no guaranteed financial safety net for the retirees. Normally, retirement is a stage in an individual’s life where retirees are expected to have time for leisure without the compressing demands of work place and socio-economic dictates. The expectation at retirement is for an individual to have less financial commitment in relation to training of children and other dependants, duties and responsibilities which are expected to have been carried out during active service years. Meanwhile, other pecuniary needs such as accommodation should not be a financial stress to retirees because a worker is expected to have built a house during active service years, or better still, rely on the government for the provision of such fundamental needs of life. From the assertion above, with good remuneration (pension and gratuity), less financial burden from children and good accommodation, retirees are expected to have got enough pecuniary wherewithal for basic necessity of life such as clothing, feeding, good health care, other necessity and indulgence that make life satisfying. Life-satisfaction in this instance depends largely on how well retirees are able to meet financial and social obligations as they relate to their accommodation, family size, dependant children, family type, other dependants, community commitment and involvement, taste and fashion. This is subsequently determined by the availability of funds to retirees which is conditioned by economic factors of retirees such as pension, gratuity, additional sources of income, size and level of investment and post retirement employment (PRE). In Nigeria, however, retirees are facing the challenges of retirement which is characterised by poor remuneration of pension and gratuity that is delayed and not regularly paid. Thus, making retirees in Nigeria to be financially deficient; finding it difficult meeting the basic necessities of life such as accommodation, good nutrition and health care. From the position of Zowan (2012), it can be deduced that Nigerian public retirees look haggard and hardly meet basic necessities of life. For example, it is on record that from 1996–2009, over 3 ten thousand railways pensioners had died of frustration, hunger and starvation due to lack of pension, gratuity and rigorous screening and verification exercise (Ihuoma, 2010). Succinctly, Nigeria retirees are not satisfied with their living condition; this is owing to the fact that they find it difficult to meet their socio-economic obligations as it relates to their family, dependants, and community. This is as a result of poor financial status owing to inadequate income mainly from pension, gratuity and other sources of income. Consequently, it can be argued further that the social and economic conditions of retirees in Nigeria are not desirable. This is because instead of experiencing leisure time from work, retirees in Nigeria are engrossed in agitation for retirement benefits owing to inadequacy of finance to meet basic needs or look for meagre work to do at old age. Worst still, some of them take to the street for alms begging.

Statement of the Problem

In Nigeria, there is increasing number of public service retirees; while payment of retirement benefits (pension and gratuity) is not regular. Also, there is lack of properly instituted social security policy generally for government retirees. Consequently, this has greatly impeded on their socio-economic and health status and occasioned life dissatisfaction characterised by lack of the basic necessities of life among public retirees. Public service retirees in South-West Nigeria face quite a number of challenges which affect their life satisfaction and overall well being; most often with resultant shortened life span few years after retirement. Previous studies have focused more on pension and other benefits as well as problems related with ageism without adequate consideration for the combined effects of socioeconomic factors (accommodation, dependant children, family type, other dependants, community commitment and participation, family size, taste and fashion, pension, gratuity, additional source of income, post retirement employment) and health status on the public service retirees’ life satisfaction. This raises question on how to ensure life-satisfaction for public retirees with emphasis on the socio-economic and health status.

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Updated: 9th October 2019 — 9:15 am

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