Washington: Turns out, taking early retirement isn’t the key to a long life. Instead, it’s the people working past age 65 who live the longest, according to a recent study.
The Oregon State University researchers found that healthy adults who retired one year past age 65 had an 11 percent lower risk of death from all causes, even when taking into account demographic, lifestyle and health issues.
Adults who described themselves as unhealthy were also likely to live longer if they kept working, the findings showed, which indicates that factors beyond health may affect post- retirement mortality.
“It may not apply to everybody, but we think work brings people a lot of economic and social benefits that could impact the length of their lives,” said lead author Chenkai Wu.
Wu examined data collected from 1992 through 2010 through the Healthy Retirement Study. Of the more than 12,000 initial participants in the study, Wu narrowed his focus to 2,956 people who began the study in 1992 and had retired by the end of the study period in 2010.
The team divided the group into unhealthy retirees, or those who indicated that health was a factor in their decision to retire – and healthy retirees, who indicated health was not a factor. About two-thirds of the group fell into the healthy category, while a third were in the unhealthy category.
During the study period, about 12 percent of the healthy and 25.6 percent of the unhealthy retirees died. Healthy retirees who worked a year longer had an 11 percent lower risk of mortality, while unhealthy retirees who worked a year longer had a 9 percent lower mortality risk. Working a year longer had a positive impact on the study participants’ mortality rate regardless of their health status.
“The healthy group is generally more advantaged in terms of education, wealth, health behaviors and lifestyle, but taking all of those issues into account, the pattern still remained,” said senior author Robert Stawski. “The findings seem to indicate that people who remain active and engaged gain a benefit from that.”
The findings are published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.