Delaying Retirement May Help Us Live Longer

Despite the perils of work-related stress and having less time to do what you actually enjoy, it turns out that putting off retirement until after you turn 65 might actually contribute to lengthening your life span.

According to a recent Oregon State University study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, healthy adults who waited to retire a year after age 65 had a lower risk of death from all causes by 11 percent — independent of demographic, lifestyle and health factors.

Researchers looked at data taken from 2,965 participants in the National Institute on Aging’s Healthy Retirement Study — a long-term study of American adults that was conducted over an 18-year period from 1992 to 2010. These participants had all retired by 2010.

Since health certainly plays a role in the decision making process for the best time to retire, the study participants were separated into two groups: those whose retirement decisions were influenced by health problems and those who didn’t need to consider health issues as a factor in their decision to retire. Approximately two-thirds of the participants were categorized as “healthy retirees” while one-third were labeled as “unhealthy retirees.”

Over the 18-year period, about 12.1 of the healthy retirees passed away, compared to 25.6 percent of the unhealthy retirees. When the researchers looked at healthy retirees who retired at age 67 compared to retiring at age 65, there was a 21-percent lower risk of death.

Among healthy retirees, there was a trend in reduced risk of death as retirement age increased. The risk was 44 percent lower for healthy retirees who waited until age 70 to retire, and 56 percent lower for those who retired at age 72.

Regarding the unhealthy group, the reduction in risk of death showed a similar trend. Those who retired at age 66 saw a reduced risk of death by 9 percent. Unhealthy retirees who waited until age 67 to retire had a 17 percent lower risk while retiring at age 70 showed a 38 percent lower risk and a 56 percent lower at age 72.

The study findings suggest that working at least one year longer may positively impact retirees’ risk of death regardless of their current state of health. Although the researchers aren’t sure why risk of death decreases while retirement age increases, they speculate that the economic and social benefits that come with working could perhaps play a significant role in extending some people’s lives.

Unsurprisingly, conflicting research suggests different results. A 2013 study found that retirement age did not affect lifespan, and other studies have made similar findings. While this particular OSU study is indeed fascinating, we shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss the fact that retiring at 65 or earlier has both a good and bad side to it, which include a number of benefits and drawbacks like decreased stress, more time to enjoy life, decreased physical activity and less social interaction.

The researchers admit that more needs to be examined to gain a clearer understanding of how work and health are linked and what that means for retirement and longevity. So whether you plan on retiring at age 35 or 85, be sure to base it off of your own personal work, health and other lifestyle-related factors unique to you.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay


Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran1 years ago


Randy Q.
Past Member 1 years ago

"Delaying Retirement May Help Us Live Longer"

That's great we're all going to live longer because there is no such thing as retirement, anymore. It died. How can we delay what doesn't exist?

Nina S.
Nina S1 years ago


Manuela C.
Manuela C1 years ago


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Catrin NoForwardsPlease
Catrin Schuetz1 years ago

My generation will work till we keel over. Also an office job versus construction work, there should be a difference.

Barbara M1 years ago

Does this study make any distinction between jobs involving physical labor and sedentary ones? Did it look at all at socioeconomic status -- especially relevant now that lifespans of the rich are becoming so much longer than those of the non-rich?

I'm sorry, it's hard to believe that keeping a 65-year-old waitress on her feet and working for another two years is going to accomplish a miracle and extend her lifespan. This is a dangerous time for broad generalizations about work and lifespan -- even as lifespans shorten for the working class, our government is proposing to raise the retirement age because lifespans are lengthening for the well-to-do. Staying at one's desk for another year may extend one's life, but more physical and/or dangerous work, like washing high-rise windows, may not.

No wonder other research does not support these findings -- as reported here, this study seems both crude and naive.

Palestine Forever
.1 years ago

Melanie Simon, and Barbara S have it nailed. Those who define themselves by their are the ones who give up on life when they no longer work at those jobs.
The rest of us find plenty to do in retirement. We stay young because we're always finding new challenges. So many, in fact, that we can't think how we ever had time to work as well.
We just haven't got time to die - though when we go it will probably be quickly, rather than a drawn-out living death.
A friend of mine died last year, while writing an email to our Prime Minister on behalf of his union (he still kept up membership although he'd been retired for 20 years). In the previous six months he'd built a school in the Philippines, climbed a volcano and gone scuba diving.
Me, I've taken up belly dancing and, as you can see from my 'handle', political lobbying (amongst other things).