The age at which a worker retires has no effect on how long they will live afterwards, according to researchers.
Those who have to work long into old age have the same prospect of enjoying a lengthy, healthy retirement period, as millionaires who can retire while still relatively young, according to the study.
The research carried out by the Australian School of Business has concluded that life expectancy and retirement age are entirely unconnected.
Past studies are contradictory. Some claim that people who retire young are more likely to die young because their social network can unravel and they do less mental and physical activity.
Others insist that those who work for longer will die younger because of the amount of stress caused by working, to which they are subjected for a longer period of time.
The researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research in Australia say they did find a strong link between age of death and being forced out of a job.
The most recent study looked at data from Norway spanning two decades: 1990 to 2010. In the first 10-year period, it was noted that many workers retired earlier than expected.
This is because many public and private sector employers gradually reduced the age at which workers could receive their pension, from 67 to 62. The rest of the working population retired at the age of 67.
The researchers say they could find no difference in life expectancy between the early retirees and the later ones. This led to them to conclude that retirement age does not affect length of life.
‘While it is tempting to link retirement to life expectancy, the reality is that health status is the primary determining factor in when we die, says centre director John Piggott, a professor of economics.
‘Health influences both the timing of retirement and when we die, which has sometimes caused confusion in earlier studies.
‘As Australia’s population continues to live longer, the amount of time spent in the post-work period is extending and this has significant cost implications for both individuals and governments.
‘In the future, if policymakers consider increasing the age of retirement as a way to cope with this rising fiscal burden, our study shows they need not worry about any adverse effect on the mortality rate of the population.’