Retirement Living
Retirement Living

Do you live longer if you retire later?

April, 2013

It seems that if a statistical claim is repeated often enough then it somehow gets accepted as the absolute truth even when there is no factual basis for the conclusion. A few of the examples of these ridiculous claims are things like, only 1 in 10 Americans have a passport. Rubbish. At the last count over 37% owned a passport. Or how about 93% of communication is now non-verbal? Not true either; who makes this stuff up?

At Sandwich Generation we’re all about providing advice and information for the elderly and their families but we also like an opportunity to dispel a myth now and again.

For a number of years various myths and stories surrounding the correlation between retirement age and life expectancy have swamped statistic charts and graphs. We’re here to put an end to all this hearsay as wouldn’t you know it; this is another stat with no evidence to back it’s claims.

The rumours and stories mainly surround certain professions. For example, within the elderly community, teachers when approaching retirement were are all-too-well known for claiming their life expectancy is reduced to 18 months when they retire. Which is odd because a recent study shows this is not the case at all. In fact National Statistics data would suggest that teachers, and similar professional groups to them, would actually have over 18 years to live if retiring at 65 (for men). Better than that, based on current mortality figures, the figure has now increased to nearer 25-30 years.

Shell, the oil firm, carried out a study of past employees in the US, which found that mortality was slightly earlier, on average, for staff who retired at 55, than for those who continued working to 65. But Actuary Dave Grimshaw has told the BBC we need to be very careful about what conclusions we draw. The statistical waters, he says, are muddied by the fact that people retire at different ages for different reasons. “You will have a group who are forced to retire [early] as a result of ill health and that may impact on their life expectancy,” he says. “In contrast there will be other people that choose to retire at 55, as more of a lifestyle decision. They may well be more affluent people. And they will also probably be in good health.”

People who retire early because they are seriously ill will make average life expectancy for all retirees of that age look lower. And let’s not forget, some of the people who retire at 55 will die before they reach 65. But of course no-one who retires at 65 will have died before they reached that age. That also distorts the data.

There are of course other reasons for the varying life expectancies with job sectors, one of which is socio-economic. In conclusion, it’s not just the job that affects ones life expectancy. So don’t live by a myth and expect the worse, break free and buck the trend!

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