London, Oct. 21: Workers who retire early are likely to die sooner than those who continue in their jobs, a study has found.
Contrary to the belief that stopping work sooner goes hand in hand with a long and healthier retirement, researchers discovered that men and women who retired at 55 were nearly twice as likely to die within the following 10 years as those who retired at 60 or 65. There was little difference in survival in those who retired later.
The 26-year study, reported in the British Medical Journal, involved 3,500 former employees of Shell Oil in Texas.
A team from Shell Health Services found, as expected, that women, who made up 11 per cent of the sample, tended to live longer.
They also accepted that some of those who retired early may have been ill already. But if pre-existing disease was a significant reason for the earlier deaths, they would have expected to see a similar pattern in people who retired at 60, they said. They would also have expected to see those who retired early dying very soon after retirement.
Dr Shan Tsai, an epidemiologist who led the study, said: “Regardless of socio-economic status, employees who retired at 55 had a higher risk of mortality than those who retired at 60.
Mervyn Kohler, of Help the Aged, said: “This raises the question of whether early retirement is actually bad for you. There is already a body of evidence that says that working longer is good for you. There is a reason to get up in the morning, you look after your health and you maintain your social contacts.
“But employers need to be flexible. Older employees need an employer who is sympathetic to various aspects of health as you get older.”
He added: “If you talk to human resources professionals, they will tell you that if an individual has been doing the same job for 20 years and is getting a bit jaded, the best thing is a new direction at work, new challenges.”