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Early retirement and longevity
Old 02-21-2010, 09:02 PM   #1
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Early retirement and longevity

Over the weekend, I came accross this article: Ephrem:

It contrasts sharply with the many reports (often based on anecdotal evidence) that conclude that people who work longer live longer.

As with the studies going the other way, there is still a substantial lack of clarity on the question of why early retiriees live longer (or not, as the case may be). I'm far from convinced that the retire early/work longer is determinative - other factors are (I think) also highly relevant: underlying health issues, mental fitness, physical fitness, social connections, diet, access to health care, family genetics (and probably a few more).

Does anyone know of any studies that manage to isolate the retire early/work longer effect on longevity from other factors?
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Old 02-21-2010, 09:53 PM   #2
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My understanding is that the Boeing "data" is an urban myth.

Retiring early means a longer life – an urban myth? :: squareCircleZ
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Old 02-21-2010, 09:56 PM   #3
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Well, I have been wondering a little about this as well, since I have a little less than 3 years to go. I have no empirical evidence, but logic seems to tell me that retirees who have nothing to retire to, i.e., if they don't the the answer to the question "whaddya gonna do all day?" then they probably die sooner. Add to that the fact that so many people have so little time to exercise or eat properly during their working daze, that their health goes and they die early, particularly if they are not able to bail out early and take care of themselves a bit better.

So, in my mind, I feel I have to have something I want to "retire to", and I also have to do it early enough (plan is 51) that I will be able work on the fitness/health aspects that seem to take the back burner all too often due to trying to keep up with business priorities.

There will be those who dispute this. For example, they may say that they go to the coffee shop daily with their buddies to shoot the breeze, or travel a bit more, or play with the grandkids more etc. Well, those are all things to "retire-to", whereas the guy/gal who retires to "nothing to do all day" and "boredom" are those who retire seemingly without any purpose.

FWIW/YMMV

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Old 02-22-2010, 06:25 AM   #4
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I DO want to sound controversial: I believe that one dies whenever he dies no matter how active/passive/fullfilled/empty/intellectual/dumb/positive/negative lifestyle or attitude. And to a certain degree the same applies to the prognosis of certain serious illnesses.
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Old 02-22-2010, 08:58 AM   #5
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I listened to a career counselor/talk show host the other day. He said with certainty that retirees die on average 22 months after retirement. He was to spend an hour on the topic of "what to do in retirement" but took no calls on that topic. All the callers wanted advice in finding w*rk.
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Old 02-22-2010, 09:04 AM   #6
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I listened to a career counselor/talk show host the other day. He said with certainty that retirees die on average 22 months after retirement. He was to spend an hour on the topic of "what to do in retirement" but took no calls on that topic. All the callers wanted advice in finding w*rk.
It's a good reminder, really. A lot of us who want out of our w*rk think it sounds wonderful to have all day, every day, to yourself to spend it entirely as you see fit.

And it is wonderful for most folks for (say) a week or two. But I suspect *most* people (we probably have a few outliers here) would find that gets old pretty quickly if they didn't have other outside interests, hobbies, organizations or other stuff that helps them pass the time.

As far as the statistic about dying 22 months after retirement, there are a lot of variables that need to be isolated to see if correlation really is causation here (I suspect it's not, or at most the correlation is very weak). I can think of a few factors that can skew this, specifically:

1. Someone who loved their work and had little "life" outside of it was forced to retire, perhaps at some mandatory retirement age, leaving them to wither away and letting themselves go;

2. Some people who became terminally ill while w*rking who were medically "retired" for the last few months of their life.

Without normalizing for stuff like this, it seems far-fetched to suggest someone who is healthy, engaged in their own life and *wanting* to retire is going to kick it in 22 months on average.
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Old 02-22-2010, 09:09 AM   #7
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I listened to a career counselor/talk show host the other day. He said with certainty that retirees die on average 22 months after retirement.
By his reasoning I should have died nine years ago. But that's me, I go against the crowd....I'm a rebel...
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He was to spend an hour on the topic of "what to do in retirement" but took no calls on that topic. All the callers wanted advice in finding w*rk.
Maybe they had been unemployed for 21 months.....
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Old 02-22-2010, 09:11 AM   #8
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I worked at one location for 33 years. The people there that retired and died within a short period of time were those that lived for their job and only retired when they could no longer do the job. All of them retired at 75 or older. Those are the people that skew survey results.
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Old 02-22-2010, 09:13 AM   #9
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I worked at one location for 33 years. The people there that retired and died within a short period of time were those that lived for their job and only retired when they could no longer do the job. All of them retired at 75 or older. Those are the people that skew survey results.
Agreed, and that was more or less my point. I suspect if you restricted your data set to "healthy folks under 60 who voluntarily retired early", you'd come up with something closer to 222 months than 22 months.
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Old 02-22-2010, 11:07 AM   #10
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I worked at one location for 33 years. The people there that retired and died within a short period of time were those that lived for their job and only retired when they could no longer do the job. All of them retired at 75 or older. Those are the people that skew survey results.
What a nightmare they lived. Honestly I don't think I could have done my job to age 75. It was already getting challenging at 61, when I retired.

We did have one guy in his lower 80's, though, a compulsive gambler and bitter old man who also lost everything to Katrina (nothing left of his house but the slab). There, but for the grace of G*d go I.
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Old 02-22-2010, 11:39 AM   #11
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Itīs gonna be 5 years since I and another1.300 guys manadatorily ERd. Havenīt heard of any of them have passed away..... Knock on wood!
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Old 02-22-2010, 11:45 AM   #12
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Guess I'll take the chance. All my friends who have retired say they are busier now and don't know how they had time for work.

I don't know how many people simply cannot manage to find interests and activities that keep them busy and happy to live in the population. There are those who get their only satisfaction and meaning in life out of their jobs or live for the feeling of power over others that they get from their jobs. In my experience, those people were also the ones that made stupid decisions that the rest of us continually had to clean up. And why I'm glad I no longer have to live with people like that.

I'm not bored yet. But I am just beginning.
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Old 02-22-2010, 02:00 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by traineeinvestor View Post
Over the weekend, I came accross this article: Ephrem:
It contrasts sharply with the many reports (often based on anecdotal evidence) that conclude that people who work longer live longer.
Does anyone know of any studies that manage to isolate the retire early/work longer effect on longevity from other factors?
Quote:
Originally Posted by mb View Post
My understanding is that the Boeing "data" is an urban myth.
Retiring early means a longer life – an urban myth? :: squareCircleZ
Yep, he's been pretty thoroughly discredited over the years but the enticing sound-bite journalism lives on.

Want to live a long life - don't retire
Retire early, live longer
Have reached FI, can't bring myself to RE
http://www.boeing.com/companyoffices...nars/Rumor.pdf

Mods, maybe those links could be added to the FAQ Archive under the title "Boeing age-related retirement rumors"?

Talk about the ultimate in survivor bias. I haven't seen a study that can tease out the differences among:
- workers who ER because of poor health and quickly die
- workers who ER to regain control over their life (and health) before it's too late
- workers who are involuntarily ER'd and quickly die of a lack of ability to be responsible for their own entertainment
- workers who've been planning to ER from their first paycheck (admittedly a very small group, perhaps an insignificant effect on any study).

Just the simple act of examining those who are about to retire may affect the data. Retirees are probably getting more detailed medical/dental exams which are bound to find "problems" that can complicate retirement. Or a routine physical leads to findings which result in a peremptory (and premature) retirement.

I think there's also a "Woo-hoo!!" effect among ERs and perhaps all retirees. As military veterans are keenly aware the retirement itself can be an extremely stressful event, especially the ceremony and associated socializing-- even worse when family/relatives/shipmates are attending. Preparation and informed expectations are key to a good mental & emotional transition, but those require time (and acceptance) to be effective. The ceremony itself and the week or two afterward can involve large quantities of unhealthy food, alcohol, and inappropriate dancing. Then a few weeks after retirement, the newbie ER begins a comprehensive self-improvement initiative which involves all sorts of risky activities like running, aerobics, calisthenics, weight-lifting, and marathon training.

Finally there's the bucket list-- and some of the more hyperachieving/overcompetitive retirees are bound to take a few risks enroute seeking life-changing experiences before they die. Which shouldn't surprise us that their quest can lead to higher death rates...
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Old 02-22-2010, 07:40 PM   #14
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The ceremony itself and the week or two afterward can involve large quantities of unhealthy food, alcohol, and inappropriate dancing. Then a few weeks after retirement, the newbie ER begins a comprehensive self-improvement initiative which involves all sorts of risky activities like running, aerobics, calisthenics, weight-lifting, and marathon training.

Finally there's the bucket list-- and some of the more hyperachieving/overcompetitive retirees are bound to take a few risks enroute seeking life-changing experiences before they die. Which shouldn't surprise us that their quest can lead to higher death rates...
Not to mention high risk activities like irritating the wife by hanging around the home all day.
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Old 02-22-2010, 08:09 PM   #15
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Frankly, I don't really care what the longevity effects are, although I would be really surprised if my health improved after I get rid of the job monkey on my back. Its like the joke about the guy whose doctor tells him that smoking cigars will cut 3 years off his life. His response: "Which 3 years? 84 to 87? Pass me a stogie."
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Old 02-22-2010, 08:15 PM   #16
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I really suspect the "retirees die quickly" data because it sure seems like a lot of folks are forced to retire for health reasons even when they can't really afford to do so.

Also, I wonder about those kind of "forced out of work" - "retire" because they are laid off. Although Uncle Mick's longevity has been such that it should skew any studies of this nature - heh, heh, heh!

It's so hard for me to imagine someone dying earlier than they naturally would because they have nothing to do. Then, of course, I have a really hard time imagining having nothing to do. If your funds are extremely limited, it might limit your options for finding something enjoyable to do.

I do observe, however, that my health has generally improved after retirement. The biggest thing I notice is that both DH and I are much less prone to catch whatever sickness is going around. Just recently someone we met with came down with a bad flu had to go to hospital and be put on Tamiflu, whereas both DH and I noticed feeling slightly "off" the afternoon after our meeting and DH took a nap. That was it for us.

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Old 02-22-2010, 08:25 PM   #17
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Frankly, I don't really care what the longevity effects are, although I would be really surprised if my health improved after I get rid of the job monkey on my back. Its like the joke about the guy whose doctor tells him that smoking cigars will cut 3 years off his life. His response: "Which 3 years? 84 to 87? Pass me a stogie."
Well - I think it's all those years of pushing around an oxygen tank before finally dying that might be the real downside!
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Old 02-22-2010, 08:27 PM   #18
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Crap, I am on the road for work all month and caught a cold. 3 weeks later, a doctor visit and antibiotics and I am still not feeling right. Think that would be the case if I were home with my family and not being aggravated half to death all the time?
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Old 02-22-2010, 08:31 PM   #19
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I listened to a career counselor/talk show host the other day. He said with certainty that retirees die on average 22 months after retirement. He was to spend an hour on the topic of "what to do in retirement" but took no calls on that topic. All the callers wanted advice in finding w*rk.
Well, he is obviously wrong. For many years the age of average retirement has been somewhat lower than 65, while the life expectancy of a man at 65 is roughly 18 years, and a woman about 20 years.

Can't this "counselor" even subtract?

Ha
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Old 02-22-2010, 08:39 PM   #20
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Crap, I am on the road for work all month and caught a cold. 3 weeks later, a doctor visit and antibiotics and I am still not feeling right. Think that would be the case if I were home with my family and not being aggravated half to death all the time?
Not likely IMO.

Sorry about that - hope you feel better soon.

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