Study: Keep Working, Live Longer

October 21, 2005 ( - Those who retire at age 65, on average, live longer than those who retire at age 55 or 60, according to a new study published by the British Medical Journal.

Bloomberg reports that Shan Tsai of Shell Health Services in Houston said, “Although some workers retired at 55 because of failing health, these results clearly show that early retirement is not associated with increased survival,” Tsai said in the study. “On the contrary, mortality improved with increasing age at retirement for people from both high and low socio-economic groups.” The group studied more than 3,500 former workers at Royal Dutch Shell Plc between January 1973 and December 2003.

Shell monitored employees who retired at 55, 60 and 65 for as long as 26 years to assess whether there was any survival advantage of early retirement. They adjusted for factors including sex and socioeconomic status, but didn’t study whether employees who retired at a younger age were in poorer health, according to Bloomberg.

The death rate was almost twice as high in the first 10 years after retirement at 55 as it was with those who continued working, which may be due to failing health in some workers, the researchers said.

According to a news report from the AFP, the studyfound that workers who retired at 55 lived until the age of 72 on average, while those who quit at 60 died at the average age of 76. Those who stopped working at 65 lived on average until 80.

Those who lived longest were women from a high-income group who retired at age 65. Those in the study who died the soonest were low-income males who retired at age 55, the AFP reports.

The British Medical Journal publication is here .