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 (SHARE). 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:

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Jim from Washington posted 10 months ago:

As a retiree at 55 from an eligible retirement plan, I don't know if I'm considered and "early retiree" but do know that I would gladly give up 1.8 months of my latter life for every day I have been away from my previous career!

DAB from Oregon posted 10 months ago:

There's not enough info about the study to really comment, much less conclude retirement causes poorer health or decide to work longer to be healthier.
To ask the obvious: How does "being retired" lead to "doubling the number of years spent in retirement"? Is this just sloppy reporting?
How was the design & data handled to remove the effects of age?
Were working & non working stress and physical activity levels evaluated?
Were systematic dietary changes evaluated?
Without any description of the study design and such questions and others reported, its potentially misleading to publish such summaries about any study. I expect better than that from AAII.

Jonathan Silverberg from New York posted 10 months ago:

Couldn't agree with you more, DAB...

Jeff from Oregon posted 10 months ago:

As the Brits would say, "this study is a muddle." Unless, you can look at the underlying methodology and data, I don't think you can draw much of any conclusion about it. It could be, not surprisingly, that on the average somewhat healthier people are able to work longer.

I'm pushing 68 and will retire in a few months. I don't think I'm a great deal healthier than my friends who've been dropping out of the workforce at a lesser age than me.

Usually, AAII has informative articles. This one misses the mark badly.

Charles Rotblut from Illinois posted 10 months ago:

The study this article was based on can be found at

Coincidentally, Bloomberg has an editorial about the topic of retirement health this morning:

What I have not seen is a study distinguishing between staying employed, being retired and very active, and simply being active. My guess is that the first two would both contribute to better health, while a decrease in activity would lead to worse health outcomes. (And yes, I realize poor health does lead to less activity.)

-Charles Rotblut

Joseph Novotny from Wyoming posted 10 months ago:


Victor Stankevich from North Carolina posted 10 months ago:

As already noted, the study is missing too many critical variables; e.g., what type of work did the subjects do? how old were they when they stopped working? what was their sense of purpose? what did they do in retirement? how did men and women differ?

Scott Ries from Kentucky posted 10 months ago:

Having grown up in a retiree area (Florida), and as a current psychotherapist in a psychiatry department, I have noticed that there are two types of states of mind of retirees: one group who sees retirement as an opportunity to pursue new things, and another group who sees retirement as the last significant thing that happens before death. Not suprisingly, the former group holds up well, both physically and mentally, while the latter group tends towards depression and lethargy.

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