may not need another reason to retire early, but I’ll give you one
anyway: It could lengthen your life.
the thrust from various research in recent years, and also from a
2017 study in the journal
that study, Hans Bloemen, Stefan Hochguertel and Jochem Zweerink —
all economists from the Netherlands —
looked at what happened when, in 2005, some Dutch civil
servants could temporarily qualify for early retirement.
those at least 55 years old and with at least 10 years of continuous
service with contributions to the public sector pension fund were
eligible. Men responding to the early retirement offer were 2.6
percentage points less likely to die over the next five years than
those who did not retire early. (Too few women met the early retirement
eligibility criteria to be included in the study.)
Dutch study echoes those from other
countries. An analysis
in the United States found
about seven years of retirement can be as good for health as reducing
the chance of getting a serious disease (like diabetes or heart
conditions) by 20 percent.
Positive health effects of retirement have also been found
by studies using data from Israel, England, Germany and other
retirement promotes health and prolongs life isn’t obvious. After all,
work provides income and, for some, health insurance — both helpful for
maintenance of well-being. It also can provide purpose and
is mounting that loneliness
and social isolation are linked to illness, cognitive decline and
death. One study of
American retirees found them less likely to be lonely or depressed.
work involves physical activity, which can help keep bodies healthy,
study found that those
accustomed to getting exercise through physically strenuous jobs — like
construction or landscaping — are more likely to become obese upon
retirement than those who don’t have such jobs.
for many people, work can be stressful, take time away from exercise,
and promote bad habits like excessive alcohol consumption. The Dutch
study found that half of the mortality reduction associated with
retirement is attributable to cardiovascular and digestive system
diseases. Obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption, as well as reduced
exercise and stress, can all contribute to these. If you drive to work,
that’s another life-threatening risk.
out the causal effect of retirement on health isn’t straightforward.
After all, some people retire precisely because
they are in declining health. Without careful analysis, you
might conclude that retirement causes poor health and an earlier death.
some studies find retirement associated with worse health and reduced
longevity. One found
that retirement raises the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. Another found
higher risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer. But another
such study found that poor
health outcomes were more pronounced among retirees who were unmarried,
reduced their physical activity, and had less social interaction. In
other words, it isn’t retirement itself that affects health, but what
you do in retirement.
active and developing healthy habits are good ideas. Physical
activity is associated with
prevention of disease and reduced mortality in older people. Lack
of time, perhaps due to work, is a chief reason many adults
don’t exercise. Retirees are more
likely to exercise, and those who do are better off for it. One
study found retirees get
more sleep and spend more time doing household work and gardening —
both of which are more active than a desk job. Another
study found that better
health in retirement may be because of the reduced likelihood of
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The Connection Between Retiring Early and Living Longer