Want to Live Longer? Postpone Retirement

We’ve all read about the beneficial financial aspects of delaying retirement – but could it also help you live longer?

A study by researchers from Oregon State University found that, at least among retirees who didn’t find health to be an important reason to retire, that even a 1-year-older age at retirement was associated with an 11% lower risk of all-cause mortality – independent of a wide range of sociodemographic, lifestyle and health confounders.

Moreover, even among unhealthy retirees, the researchers found a lower all-cause mortality risk when retiring later – a 9% lower mortality risk – and none of the sociodemographic factors were found to modify the association of retirement age with all-cause mortality.

The bottom line; working a year longer had a positive impact on the study participants’ mortality rate regardless of their health status. The findings, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, were based on the circumstances of 2,956 participants who were working during a baseline year of 1992 and completely retired during the follow-up period from 1992 to 2010. Healthy retirees were defined as individuals who self-reported health was not an important reason to retire.

Of course, wanting to retire later is no guarantee that individuals will be able to retire later; cross-sectional findings by the non-partisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) suggest that workers expect to work later than shown by those who have already retired. In 2012, the expected probability of working full time after age 65 was 48.7% for full-time men and 46.0% for full-time women, though only 12.7% and 6.0% of men and women actually worked full time after age 65.

EBRI’s Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) has consistently found that a large percentage of retirees leave the workforce earlier than planned — 49% of them in 2014, for example. Many who retire earlier than they had planned often do so for negative reasons, such as a health problem or disability (61%), though some state that they retired early because they could afford to do so (26%).

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