Blog Post

Retirement causes a 'drastic decline in health,' study says

May 16, 2013

    Paige Baschuk, Daily Briefing

    My grandfather recently celebrated his 89th birthday by going out to lunch, having his favorite gin martini, and then heading back to work.

    None of us were surprised that the mows-his-own-lawn, goes-to-the-gym-daily, World War II veteran did not take the day off. But it never occurred to me that the secret to his long life and good health may be deciding to stay in the workforce—until I came across a new study correlating poor health with retirement.

    Retirement results in a "drastic decline in health" in the short and long term, according to the study, which was released this week by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a U.K. think tank. Although people experience a small boost to health immediately after retirement, that quickly drops off and health declines significantly in the long term, the study says.

    Specifically, the study found that retiring may increase one's risk of developing clinical depression by 40% and the risk of suffering from a physical ailment by 60%. Moreover, these risks increase with each year spent in retirement, the study says.

    The researchers recommend that people consider staying in the workforce beyond the average retirement age for health and economic reasons. "Working longer will not only be an economic necessity, it also helps people live healthier lives," IEA's Philip Booth told BBC News.

    report released last year by the Employees Benefits Research Institute found that retiring at age 70—five years past the traditional retirement age—may still not be enough time to guarantee financial stability. Moreover, a study released this week by Fidelity Investments finds that an average 65-year-old couple retiring in 2013 would need $220,000 to cover medical expenses.

    Edward Datnow, chair of the Age Endeavour Fellowship, says there "should be no 'normal' retirement age in [the] future" and that those "seeking to retire should think very hard about whether it is their best option."

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