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Research: Does early retirement from the labor market prolong life?

The head of the Knowledge Center for the Study of Population Aging in Israel from the Hebrew University shows that there is no difference in the chances of mortality between people who retired early from the labor market and those who retired at retirement age

Cover of a book about life after retirement
Cover of a book about life after retirement

In the demanding labor market of the XNUMXs, the trend of early retirement is increasing and the question arises, does early retirement really benefit the retirees and lead to a longer life? Now there is a scientific answer to this. A study conducted by Prof. Howard Litwin, head of the Knowledge Center for the Study of Population Aging in Israel from the Hebrew University, shows that retirement age does not affect longevity. The results of the study revealed that there is no difference in the chances of mortality between people who retired early from the labor market and those who retired at retirement age.

In the last two decades we have witnessed in Israel the phenomenon of early retirement from the workplace resulting from generous pension plans offered to early retirees. An innovative study by Prof. Litwin, published in the journal Aging and Society, tried to understand the relationship between early retirement and longevity by taking into account the retirement age and the reason for retirement.

Studies in the Western world have shown that the main reasons for voluntary retirement from the labor market are poor health, particularly demanding work and dissatisfaction with the workplace. The relationship between socioeconomic status and retirement age is more complex. A study from Scotland found, for example, that low-income earners do not adequately prepare for retirement for reasons such as family, personal history, cultural factors and approach to life. On the other hand, the study claims that low income may be an incentive to continue working anyway.

Gender is also an influencing factor. Studies have found that women with children tend to postpone their retirement, especially those who gave birth at a relatively late age. In contrast, a Danish study found that men who retired early lived longer.

In the current study, a database from the 60+ survey of the Central Bureau of Statistics from 1997 was used. The sample consisted of 2,374 60+ year olds from among the Jewish population in Israel. The data included the reason for retirement and the retirement age while controlling for gender, age, income, education and morbidity and were cross-referenced with the mortality rates in 2004 taken from the files of the deceased. With the help of the data, the relationship between the retirement age, the reason for early retirement and the risk of mortality in a seven-year period was examined.

The results showed that only 57% of the respondents who retired "on time" stated that the reason for retiring from work was reaching retirement age, and another 25% of them stated that the retirement was not voluntary. Those who retired before retirement age were divided into three equal groups according to the reason for retirement: poor health, being forced to retire and reaching retirement age (in the case of professions where it is customary to retire before the age of 65, or who indicated that they felt it was time to retire). It was also found that women make up the majority of respondents who left work early to take care of someone in the family.

After gender, reason for retirement and health status were taken into account in the data analysis, it was found that people who retired before retirement age (65 for men and 60 for women at the time of the survey) were not more likely to live longer compared to those who retired at retirement age. On the other hand, a positive relationship was found between active work and chances of survival 7 years later.

The Knowledge Center for the Study of Population Aging in Israel, headed by Prof. Litvin, is from the beginning of the Ministry of Science and Technology and is now supported by the Ministry of Pensioners.

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