Over the weekend, I ran across a fascinating study that suggests that retiring early can significantly increase your lifespan. This work was based on an analysis of longevity data from former Boeing Aerospace, and it concluded that “for every year one works beyond age 55, one loses 2 years of life span on average.”
Here are the relevant data:
||Age at Death
(Source: “Actuarial study of life span vs. retirement age” by Ephrem Cheng)
As you can see, these data appear to indicate a continuous decrease in lifespan the longer one works. Perhaps the scariest bit of data here is that those that work through the traditional retirement age of 65 only cash their retirement checks for an average of 17 months. 17 months! Is that what you have in mind when you think about your future? That your “retirement years” will be reduced to little more than a “retirement year”?
Unfortunately, the study didn’t include an analysis of why someone that works longer might die sooner. Of course, you also can’t easily extrapolate from one workplace to another, and we’re running the risk of confusing correlation with causation. Nonetheless, it’s fun to speculate…
Given that many jobs are filled with stress and frustration, it’s not hard to imagine that their might be some health problems associated with working – e.g., heart disease, hypertension, etc. On top of that, a busy work life leaves less time for exercise, eating right, and so forth, which only compounds the problem. I guess the silver lining is that you won’t need as much money for retirement.
What do you think? Is working longer a grave health risk? Or do you think there’s another explanation for these data? Please weigh in with your thoughts.
Update: The veracity of this study has been called into question, with Boeing stating that there is no such trend in the data, and that “Boeing retirees live longer than the national average, regardless of age at retirement.”