Should You Keep Working? A New Study Shows Retired People Tend To Die Sooner

June 16, 2013  |  


Many people fear retirement not only because of the fact that there will be less money to live on but some actually look at it as a death sentence. Well, a new study seems to prove that retirement will kill you. Jennifer Montez of Harvard University and Anna Zajacova of the University of Wyoming, examined why the gap in life expectancy between highly-educated and less-educated Americans has been growing so rapidly, reports Peter Orszag in Bloomberg.

Montez and Zajacova examined the growing educational gradient in life expectancy from 1997 to 2006, focusing on white women ages 45 to 84. The results: The life expectancy of less-educated women was shortened by their lower employment rates compared with those of highly-educated women.

This isn’t the only study. Researchers at the UK’s Institute of Economic Affairs also recently pointed out “negative and substantial effects on health from retirement.” According to their study, retirement to be associated with a significant increase in clinical depression and a decline in self-assessed health. And yet another study from 2008 by the National Bureau of Economic Research discovered that full retirement increased difficulties with mobility and daily activities by 5 percent to 16 percent and, by reducing physical exertion and social interactions, also harmed mental health.

But there are also contracting studies. A 2007 paper by John Bound of the University of Michigan and Timothy Waidmann of the Urban Institute, find that retirement doesn’t harm health — and may actually improve it. “Another study, by Esteban Calvo of the Universidad Diego Portales in Chile, Natalia Sarkisian of Boston College and Christopher Tamborini of the Social Security Administration, finds harm from early retirement but no benefit from delaying retirement beyond the traditional age,” writes Peter Orszag.

So which is it? There seems to be more evidence to show that during retirement years one’s health can deteriorate. So as Peter Orszag concludes, “[T]he next time you think your job is killing you, just remember that the evidence, if anything, suggests the opposite. Your job may be saving your life.”

The study doesn’t deal directly with African Americans, but you must know someone who’s retired. What’s your perception of how they’re handling it?

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