What You Need to Know
- A CRR analysis of a Dutch tax incentive finds a possible link between working longer and increased longevity.
- It's unclear whether working longer reduces mortality or healthier people choose to work longer.
- It's also unclear whether the reduced mortality rates of those who worked longer continue past age 70.
Working longer certainly can contribute to improved financial security in retirement. But can it also benefit physical, mental and cognitive health by keeping workers active?
A report by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College examined the connection between longevity and a policy change in the Netherlands that provides a tax credit to encourage Dutch works to keep working into their mid-60s.
Previous studies have tended to focus on policies that encourage workers to retire early, which have been more common than policies aimed at working longer. However, the factors that encourage people to retire early likely are not merely the opposite of the factors that encourage them to work longer.
People deciding whether to work longer likely are healthier than those contemplating early retirement. Many individuals in low socioeconomic groups may not even have the option to keep working given deteriorating health and diminishing job opportunities.
It is difficult to measure the relationship between working longer and longevity, researchers said. A simple estimate likely would find that longer work lives and lower mortality rates are correlated. But the question is, does working cause the worker to live longer? The effect may actually work in the opposite direction: Better health may cause people to keep working. In addition, some other factor, such as income, could cause both better health and a desire to keep working.