Does Early Retirement Have an Effect on Lifespan?


Retirement is the time in your life when you enjoy the fruits of your many years of labor. It’s when your student debts have been paid, you’ve been successful in your career, and you can finally take the time to do all the things you have planned. Early retirement is, by and large, everyone’s dream, and as a recent study suggests, it may just help you live longer, too.


A Unique Study

A study conducted in the Netherlands in 2017 and published in the prestigious journal Health Economics may have some significant implications for American workers. Per the study, men who retired early were 2.6% less likely to die within the five years after retirement than those who waited until retirement age. The female sample was too small to be conclusive.

This is in line with an earlier study conducted at the University of Wisconsin that found that retired people had more time for leisure, and as a result, they often adopted healthy habits. Things like quitting smoking, increased exercise, and more balanced diets were common, and this led to longevity. This sample included thousands of men and women and showed that retirement could, in fact, have a tremendous impact on health.


A Conflicting Study

Despite this evidence, yet another study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found quite the opposite. Researchers said that people who worked a year longer than their counterparts were 11% less likely to die. Again, the sample size was small and focused almost exclusively on men, which doesn’t provide much in the way of information about women.

A study similar to the one at the University of Wisconsin and published in the Journal of Health Economics back in 2016 found that retirement had a negative effect on one’s health – namely men. Per the study, retired men had 12% higher chances of becoming obese within a period of two to four years following their retirement. Obesity leads to a variety of conditions which could have a negative effect on longevity.


Finding One’s Purpose

Overall, when looking at these various studies, there is one thing that is very clear. It’s important for individuals who retire to find some kind of purpose. For some, leaving their careers and embarking on a new life is exciting, but for others, they feel lost and like they have nothing more to offer to the world. Hobbies are vital and ensuring a healthy retirement nest egg is also important to avoiding stress and depression that often comes along with financial worry. Finally, and most importantly, everyone retires differently, and it is important to remember that another individual’s retirement should not be compared to your own.

Whether or not early retirement increases or decreases your lifespan is still unknown as the studies and the evidence are conflicting. The goal, then, should be to make retirement as enjoyable as possible through ample savings, hobbies, new personal relationships and connections, and a drive to stay healthy – both physically and mentally – well into your golden years.