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Retiring Does Not Lengthen or Shorten Life Expectancy

Update Date: Sep 24, 2013 03:46 PM EDT

Even though governments throughout the world have set a retirement age, when people actually retire depends on many circumstances. For example, for some people who make enough money, retiring early is an option whereas for others who need money, working way past the nation's retirement age is a necessity. Due to the fact that retirement age varies so greatly, researchers have been interested in studying how retirement affects life expectancy. Several of these studies, however, have found contradicting results. In a new study, researchers are reporting that retirement age neither lengthens nor shortens life expectancy.

"While it is tempting to link retirement to life expectancy, the reality is that health status is the primary determining factor in when we die," said John Piggott, Professor of Economics at the Australian School of Business. "Health influences both the timing of retirement and when we die which has sometimes caused confusion in earlier studies."

In this study, researchers from the Australian School of Business looked at the population data from the Norwegian government that was collected from 1990 to 2010. The researchers noted that in the 1990s, a significantly large number of companies in both the private and public sectors reduced the retirement age from 67 to 62. However, the retirement age in which seniors could start receiving pension, was still 67 for the nation. The researchers compared people who retired at 62 to those who retired at 67 and found no difference in life expectancy.

Even though the researchers did not find any relationship between retirement age and life expectancy, they did suggest that when retirement was forced upon the employee, life expectancy could then be affected. Based on previous studies, researchers have found that people who retire early might be more prone to dementia due to the lack of mental simulation, which they would normally have gotten from work.

"When a person's choice to leave work is removed, this does seem to impact mortality, most probably because of a variety of factors such as depression and loss of social networks," Piggott added according to Daily Mail.

The study, "Does Retirement Age Impact Mortality?" was published in the Journal of Health and Economics

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