Early retirement is associated with premature death no matter how healthy or unhealthy a person is.

A study which followed almost 3000 Americans shows that early retirement may be a risk factor for dying. This suggests prolonging working life may have survival benefits.

Study participants were divided into unhealthy and healthy retirees based on whether ill-health influenced their decision to stop work.

About two-thirds were healthy and a third unhealthy, say the researchers from Oregon State University.

During the 18 year-study, 12% of the healthy and 25.6% of the unhealthy group died, they report in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Among healthy retirees, being one year older at retirement was associated with an 11% lower risk of dying from any cause, independent of a wide range of socio-demographic, lifestyle and health factors.

Similarly, the study shows the unhealthy group reduced their likelihood of dying by 9% if they delayed retirement.

The researchers found that none of the socio-demographic factors changed the association of retirement age with dying (from any cause).

However, lead author Dr Chenkai Wu notes that it may be what work represents to people that prolongs life – not employment itself.

“Keeping active and getting involved in voluntary work definitely brings retirees a lot of benefits that would have been brought about by keeping on working.”

Last Reviewed: 03/05/2016

Reproduced with kind permission from 6minutes.com.au.


Association of retirement age with mortality: a population-based longitudinal study among older adults in the USA.