An Oregon State University study published on March 21 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health reveals that working longer makes one live longer. It turns out that working one year past the age of 65 years reduces mortality risk by up to 11 percent in healthy retirees and nine percent in unhealthy retirees.
While the researchers assert that further studies are still needed to understand the association of work and health, they still observed the same lower risk from all causes even after taking the demographic, lifestyle and health problems into account. Moreover, this may not apply to everyone but the team speculates that work provides many economic and social benefits that increase longevity.
The researchers analysed the data from the Healthy Retirement Study gathered in the US from 1992 through 2010. Of the 2,956 participants chosen, about 12 percent and 25.6 percent of the healthy and unhealthy retirees died.
Even those unhealthy individuals lived longer if they worked one year past the age of 65. This indicated that mortality rate from working a year longer is the same regardless of one’s health status.
“The healthy group is generally more advantaged in terms of education, wealth, health behaviours and lifestyle, but taking all of those issues into account, the pattern still remained,” adds study senior author Robert Stawski, an associate professor at the university. “The findings seem to indicate that people who remain active and engaged gain a benefit from that.”
Nevertheless, the researchers point out that people’s physical health cognitive abilities decline as they age so this could also affect their capacity to work and affect their lifespan. Hence, more research is needed to gather more insight about this.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” concludes Stawski. “We see the relationship between work and longevity, but we don’t know everything about people’s lives, health, and well-being after retirement that could be influencing their longevity.”