Maybe your uncle had a heart attack as soon as he retired. Or your recently retired friends are feeling down and lost with no structure to their day. A cheerful article on Harvard Health News Arguing that working longer provides mental stimulation and prevents chronic illness may have led you to believe that retirement killed your uncle or bored your friends.

But the health effects of retirement and working longer are complicated. In general, voluntary retirement is primarily associated with greater health, control, and well-being. However, when older people are forced into retirement, the health effects are negative and more than 50% of retirees are forced into involuntary retirement. For many people over the age of 55 and 65, working and unemployment conditions are harsh and can hasten death and morbidity.

A 2008 study comparing two groups — Retirees and workers: Retirees were found to have more difficulties with mobility and daily activities, more illnesses, and more erosion of mental health than workers of the same age. Not knowing why the people in the study retired might make you think that being retired is what makes you depressed and unhealthy, when poor health and a hostile job market could be the reason they retired in the first place. People from higher socioeconomic classes work longer and enjoy better health. But work didn’t necessarily make them healthier. They might be even happier if they stopped working.

People who retire from jobs with low reward-effort ratios save your better health than people who work longer. 2013 study and a Follow up in 2018 found that withdrawing from jobs with great physical and psychological responsibilities improves health and reduces depressive symptoms. Retirement significantly improves health because retirees are more likely to stop smoking and exercise more. It seems that habits are harder to break while working. By 2018, compelling evidence emerged that retirement, compared to work, improves physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction, and ultimately, retirement reduces functional limitations for many people. Satisfaction with life improves within the first four years of retirement, while improvements in health appear four or more years later.

“Escape” from work by retiring is the healthiest thing a person can do.

Hostile labor markets

Since the job market is quite hostile to older workers, it takes longer to find a job if you lose yours; pay atrophies; and many working conditions worsen: staying in the workforce can become toxic. And if you experience job insecurity and involuntary job loss in midlife but continue to work, your health worsens. Men, especially, who have unstable work careers and involuntary job loss are at increased risk of depression in later life. if they continue working.

A study published in the aptly named Journal of Happiness Studies found that people who retired had more years of feeling well than their working counterparts.

One last indicator of health, which is often studied and greatly admired, is resilience, the ability to “go with the flow” or “flourishing despite adversity.” Result working in old age does not help an elderly person be resilient. Resilient older people have good quality relationships and are integrated into the community; but work itself is not related to such good social and psychological outcomes in old age.

Work and Older Women

Old-age work could be worse for women because they are more likely to be supervised at work, face more age discrimination, and are likely to be paid less for the same effort, responsibility, and education. Older workers are more likely to have jobs with low reward-for-effort ratios. Working longer for women, especially, erodes health. Women in service jobs would be healthier if they retired.

Retirement is especially useful for people who have the worst jobs, are in the worst health, and have the lowest status in society and the job market. An extra positive effect of retirement for people with a lower socioeconomic status is that retiring reduces the pain which gives a person more ability to participate in the daily activities of life. This finding is key because pain is a big part of life for an older worker.

Jobs aren’t getting easier for older workers

The physical demands placed on older workers today are no different than they were in the 1990s. In 1992, 17 percent of older workers said their jobs required heavy lifting. That rate remained high at 15 percent in 2014. Older black men were more likely to perform physical labor in 2010 than they were in the 1990s. Additionally, the proportion of workers who reported frequent stooping, kneeling, and stooping in 2014 was equal to that of 1992, by 27 percent. One in three older workers said their job required “a lot of physical effort” in 2014. And computers haven’t saved people from hard work; more seniors have jobs that demand sharp eyesight and intense concentration because of computers.

By 2035, personal and home health care aides are occupations that will see the most job growth. Government data projects that three-quarters of these new jobs will be for women over the age of 55. All indications point to the fact that the largest source of jobs for older workers are jobs important to society that require high levels of physical, mental and emotional effort for low incomes. monetary reward levels.

if nothing is done

With these low reward-for-effort ratios, I suspect that unless Congress and business do something, older people working longer could make people sicker, reverse past gains in longevity, and worsen the income gap. class and race in longevity.

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