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Working longer extends your lifespan

If you compare the annual death rates among two groups of men aged 50 to 70, the data shows men who work longer live longer. Death rates of those still working are roughly half that of the death rates of men the same age who are fully retired.What’s going on here? I thought retirement was supposed to be good for you! (By the way, the study showed that the effect was also there for women, but it was less pronounced.)

The results shown on this chart immediately beg the question: Is this causation (working actually causes or enables you to live longer) or correlation (there’s no direct causal relationship). Here’s one possible explanation that would weigh in on the correlation side:

People who were on disability benefits and whose health was compromised were excluded from both groups.

Studies – as well as anecdotal evidence — suggests that engagement with life is what helps prolong life. This is what the authors of the book Super You also concluded.

People get engagement with life from working longer. However, the can also get it from taking up causes, volunteering, hobbies, and contributing to family and community. It all comes down to “having a purpose”, said the Super You authors, which includes Andy Walker and Kay Walker.

Finding powerful reasons for getting up in the morning in my retirement years is as important as my financial planning. My prior blog post, Can’t Retire Yet? Don’t Despair, suggests that we may need to work a little in our retirement years to make ends meet. In this case, I won’t be bitter–working may be keeping me alive!

The jury is still out on the question of whether working might increase your longevity. What’s your take on this?