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Does early retirement lead to longer life?


It has been claimed, but not empirically supported, that early retirement leads to longer life. The present investigation addressed this question using data from a 1997 Israeli national household survey of adults aged 60 or more years linked to mortality records from the national death registry, for 2004. The study examined the association between early retirement and seven-year all-cause mortality among the population of older Jewish Israelis who were employed prior to or at baseline (N=2,374). Both the timing of retirement and the reasons for exit from the labour force were considered in the analysis. The initial hazard regression models, adjusted by gender and reason for retirement including poor health, showed that early retirees indeed had lower mortality risk ratios than respondents who had retired ‘on time’. When additional variables were controlled in the final analytic model, however, the association between early retirement and mortality was not supported. Older age, male gender, and having been diagnosed with one or more of five major illnesses were all associated with greater risk for mortality. Medium level education and being employed at baseline were associated with lesser mortality risk. Nevertheless, the timing of retirement, viz. early versus normative exit from the workforce, was not related to survival. In sum, the respondents who had prematurely exited the labour force did not benefit from disproportionately longer lives when compared with the respondents who retired ‘on time’.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Howard Litwin, Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, Hebrew University, Mount Scopus, 91905-IL, Jerusalem, Israel. E-mail:
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Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
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