Money & Careers

Resisting Retirement May be a Healthy Choice

The dark underside of this is that many cannot afford to retire. This generation has had a harder time affording middle-class amenities, like owning a home, and we have put away less for retirement. Our parents were likely to have lived longer than their parents, diminishing monies and property that was inherited by previous generations, and we have often had to use our resources to care for them.

The Times cites a recent paper by the economists Annamaria Lusardi and Olivia S. Mitchell that “examined women who were working into old age because they had more debt than in previous generations and lacked financial savvy. Older workers who lost their jobs during the financial crisis were more likely to be unemployed long term — especially women, in part because their résumés tended to be spottier.”

When we ran a few articles about being a grandmother, a great many readers wrote in to say they felt ambivalent about their children’s needs for babysitting help from them because they were still working. The image of the relaxed, happy granny has been upended by the stress that so many women feel about their finances, and their children’s need for “free” child care is part of the same problem.

The good news is that people who delay retirement may live longer. A recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health discovered that those who keep working later in life actually have a lower risk of death, and the risk is lower from any cause.

While those who wait to retire until 66 have an 11 percent chance of living longer, that number increases the longer the workers examined worked. Fortune writes,  “… the study concluded that those who retired at age 67 were 21 percent less likely to die, at age 70 were 44 percent less likely, and at age 72 were 56 percent less likely than those aged 65.” ()

While those who continue working by necessity rather than choice may resent it, perhaps it can help to know it is good for your health not to retire. A fascinating group of studies by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer showed that simply reframing how you look at something can have benefits. One study told a group of hotel workers that the cleaning they did was actually good exercise and would help them lose weight. Compared to a control group told nothing, they actually lost more weight during the time period after they got this tip.

Whether by necessity or choice, women are in the workforce, and they are here to stay. Throughout the life cycle, feeling productive and accomplished is a key ingredient in mental well-being. Women who delay retirement may well be extending not only their financial power, but the length and their quality of life itself.

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