Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication Department


Date of this Version

Summer 8-1980


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College in the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy Major: Interdepartmental Area of Community and Human Resources Under the Supervision of Professor Wesley C. Meierhenry


The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship of economic welfare and perceived financial adequacy and satisfaction of Omaha retired families. Secondary objectives were to examine the relationship between economic welfare and perceived adequacy and satisfaction and selected demographic factors and between income and economic welfare as measures of economic situation. Selected Omaha retirees were asked to complete the survey providing the necessary information to compute the economic welfare measure, background information and items to determine perceived financial adequacy and satisfaction. Background information included marital status, sex, race, age, education, family size, health and living situation. In addition, factors related to the retirement of both the family head and spouse were secured including information such as extent of and length of retirement, whether early retirement was taken, amount of income and type of employment prior to retirement. The economic welfare measure was derived for each respondent by conversion of net assets into potential annual income possible if such assets were invested in a life-time annuity based on age, sex and marital status. The derived potential annual income was then added to current income and constituted economic welfare as used in the study. Items to determine perceived adequacy were constructed for this study and were indicated through ability to buy needed items, having money left over at the end of the month, adequacy of resources so as to avoid dipping into savings for monthly expenditures and to meet doctor, dental and medical expenses. In addition, discretionary income, advanced retirement planning and sensing that needs were met adequately was indicative of perceived adequacy_ Perceived financial satisfaction was indicated by being able to live the way desired, and to buy wanted items, lack of a desire for additional money with which to live, having saved financial resources prior to retirement, and an overall level of satisfaction depicted as pretty well or more or less satisfied. Perceptions of financial adequacy and financial satisfaction were directly related to economic welfare levels of low, moderate and high. Economic welfare, as a measure of a family's financial situation was significantly different than income and was a superior predictor of perceived financial adequacy and satisfaction. Sex, age, education, extent of retirement, health, income, home and automobile ownership, stability of residence and level of debt were significant predictors of economic welfare with automobile ownership and level of debt as primary predictors accounting for one-third of the variation. Three measures of objectively determined adequacy including the poverty index, Model Budget for Retired Couples and the pre-retirement, retirement ratio were compared to subjectively determined adequacy. A direct relationship existed between an improved economic situation and an accurate subjective assessment of income adequacy. Predictors of both perceived adequacy and satisfaction were economic welfare, debt, sex, health and net worth of automobile. In addition, extent of retirement was a significant predictor of perceived adequacy. Positive perceptions resulting from comparing one's own financial situation to others and to previous time spans revealed a direct relationship to increased perceptions of adequacy and satisfaction and thus were identified as efficient predictors.