AUG 28, 2021 3:33 PM PDT

Postponing Retirement May Protect Cognitive Function

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Retiring at a later age may protect against cognitive decline. The corresponding study was published in SSM- Population Health by researchers from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, UK, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany, and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. 

Longer life expectancies and aging populations have motivated many high-income countries to postpone their statutory retirement age. In the US, for example, the retirement age has been raised to 67 for those born after 1960, while those born from 1955 can retire at 66 years of age and two months.

Evidence exists suggesting that working has positive effects on cognitive function later on in life. However, there is little research investigating whether employment, or factors that make someone more likely to work at a later age, protect against cognitive decline. 

In the present study, researchers examined data from the Health and Retirement Study from over 20,000 people in the US aged 55 to 75. All people involved in the analysis participated in the labor market at some point between 1996 and 2014. 

In the end, the researchers found that postponing retirement to age 67 was linked to slower cognitive decline. This remained even after accounting for actors such as gender, education, and occupation. They found, however, that the protective effects were most prominent among those with the highest levels of education. 

“Our findings suggest that postponed retirement is beneficial to cognitive function for all genders, races/ethnicities, educational levels, and regardless of professional or non-professional occupational status,” wrote the researchers in their study. 

“The clear implication is that more recent cohorts, who have an older statutory retirement age, may, indeed, enjoy an enduring protective effect of postponed retirement against cognitive decline,” they concluded. 

 

Sources: SSM- Population Health

About the Author
  • Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
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