Ageing times. Understanding generational changes in elderly’s use of time and space with implications for health and wellbeing

Research project
Active research
Project period
2019 - 2022
Project owner
Unit for Human Geography, Department of Economy and Society

Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare

Short description

Retirement is a key life transition during which people restructure daily activities important for health and wellbeing. Leaving labor market means less time spent on paid work, and more time released for other activities. Yet little is known about this transformation among new generations of older people. The prime aim of the Ageing Times study is to understand ongoing changes in elderly people’s use of time and space. We focus activities relevant for wellbeing and health such as social support and care; social interaction; physical activities and exercise; sedentary behavior; active and passive transport; computer use; sleeping and rest. A basic assumption is that emerging cohorts of elderly show different patterns and priorities compared to previous.


We adopt a mixed methods research design combining two empirical approaches. A quantitative module uses data from the Swedish Time Use Survey (TA). TA comprises repeated cross-sectional time use diary data (individual-level) covering two days collected in 1990/91, 2000/01 and 2010/11 enabling cohort analysis and comparison. Second, a qualitative module involves in-depth interviews with individuals belonging to three phases in transition: pre-retirement, newly retired, and post-retirement. Interviews will be of retrospective and prospective character in order to cast light on how consecutive generations of elderly differ in priorities and adaptation to retirement.


We connect to three bodies of theorizing: a) a life course perspective on daily activity change; b) how social theories of ageing (disengagement, activity, continuity, and selectivity) reflect people’s time use over the life span; and c) theories on the constrained use of time and space incl. time geography.

Expected output

The results will provide new insights into the changing conditions of ageing and new information that will inform the development of lifestyle and policy interventions to address and improve health and wellbeing in retirement.