Postpone Retirement for Your Health
Retirement leads to poorer health, according to a new study by Britain’s Institute of Economic Affairs. Author Gabriel Sahlgren found that retirement has an adverse impact on both physical and mental health.
Sahlgren bases his research on data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe. The data group covered between 7,000 and 9,000 individuals aged 50 to 70 years old at the time of the first interview. Sahlgren looked specifically at changes in health over various stages and factored in the number of years that was spent in retirement.
What he found is that not only does retirement adversely affect health, the number of years spent in retirement also impacts health. Specifically, he found that being retired led to:
- A 39% reduction in the likelihood of describing one’s health as “very good” or “excellent,”
- A 41% increase in the probability of suffering from clinical depression and
- A 63% increase in the probability of having at least one diagnosed physical condition.
- Doubling the number of years spent in retirement:
- Decreased the likelihood of being in “very good” or “excellent” health by 11%,
- Increased the probability of suffering from clinical depression by 17% and
- Increased the probability of having at least one diagnosed physical condition by 22%.
Commenting on his findings, Sahlgren concluded, “It is found that whereas the short-term impact of retirement on health is somewhat uncertain, the longer-term effects are consistently negative and large.” He further stated, “The findings are in line with research showing that general practitioners note a drop in various health indicators as a result of early retirement, despite the fact that their patients often believe that retirement has positive effects on their health.” Sahlgren does acknowledge, however, that the type of work was not measured, meaning there could still be different health effects for those engaged in manual labor versus those who perform office work.
This new research backs up a study we discussed last year. University of Zurich researchers estimated a decrease of 1.8 months in lifespan for each year a person retires early. (See “Early Retirement, Early Death?” in the Briefly Noted section of the June 2012 AAII Journal.) Though several factors determine when to retire, we will point out that there is a financial benefit to waiting: more salaried years and fewer years of relying on savings.
Source: “Work Longer, Live Healthier,” Institute of Economic Affairs, May 2013.