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Retire early, die early?
Old 03-25-2014, 06:48 AM   #1
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Retire early, die early?

I'm a little concerned over the "results" of this study posted on WebMD. Although they don't really offer much in the way of speculated causes. Perhaps the group they studied retired early due to health reasons?

Retire Early, Die Early
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Old 03-25-2014, 07:06 AM   #2
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If I die early, it will probably be from the chain saw getting away from me or falling off the cabin while building it. I will be doing a lot more physically demanding work at least through 65 in retirement than while employed.

I'll be happy to take my chances.
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Old 03-25-2014, 07:09 AM   #3
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Doesn't the last sentence in that 2005 article contradict its headline?

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Retiring at 65 was not associated with a greater risk of mortality than retiring at 55 or 60
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Old 03-25-2014, 07:15 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by LakeTravis View Post
I'm a little concerned over the "results" of this study posted on WebMD. Although they don't really offer much in the way of speculated causes. Perhaps the group they studied retired early due to health reasons?
That has always been the achilles heel of studies like these. Because some people who retire early do so because of medical problems (or maybe they were already dying when they "retired", such as a terminal cancer diagnosis), early retirement and early demise are not "independent events" and so, perhaps more than ever, correlation does not equal causation.
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Old 03-25-2014, 07:19 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by LakeTravis View Post
I'm a little concerned over the "results" of this study posted on WebMD. Although they don't really offer much in the way of speculated causes. Perhaps the group they studied retired early due to health reasons?
+1

There have been a number of threads discussing this dating back to when it was first published in 2005. One of them quotes this from the study footnotes:

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The study could not assess directly the issue of whether employees who retired at a younger age were in poorer health than those who retired later as data were not available to identify the type of retirement for each employee (for example, retirement due to disability compared with normal retirement).
Is early retirement unhealthy?
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Old 03-25-2014, 08:15 AM   #6
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That study sure has generated lots of discussion over the years. Here is a link Age at retirement and long term survival of an industrial population: prospective cohort study | BMJ

The author's conclusions are based on a group of 839 employees who retired early (age 55) between 1973 and 2003. Makes me wonder if there wasn't an effort to push people in poor or failing health out the door early. A study on mortality rates without considering health?
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Old 03-25-2014, 08:21 AM   #7
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When I see these threads it reminds me of an extreme example I saw of the "If you retire you'll die!" In my first municipal job on the first few days I had to accompany a 40 year employee to mayor's office to receive his "pin." Under that system you really didn't "earn" anything at that point; mights as well take pension and go elsewhere. He insisted that to retire meant early death.

We kept him around (he really was an archive of good information) even after he started to fail, had bladder cancer. I think he died after ~56 years of employment there. Not sure exact circumstances as I had left a year or two before. It was just the classic example of taking the opposite of ER to the extreme. And it was pretty sad the last five years or so. So I guess he could be held as an example of work facilitated longevity; hardly a "life" I'd care to emulate.
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Old 03-25-2014, 08:26 AM   #8
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The good news is, if you die early you have a better chance of your money lasting
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Old 03-25-2014, 08:29 AM   #9
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That study sure has generated lots of discussion over the years. Here is a link Age at retirement and long term survival of an industrial population: prospective cohort study | BMJ

The author's conclusions are based on a group of 839 employees who retired early (age 55) between 1973 and 2003. Makes me wonder if there wasn't an effort to push people in poor or failing health out the door early. A study on mortality rates without considering health?
True. I don't see in any of these studies a measure of
- Did people choose to retire early, or where they forced to retire (e.g. being laid off while eligible for retirement)
- If they choose to retire early, was it for their own health, or perhaps for something else stressful (e.g. taking care of sick parents)
- Their financial situation at early retirement (someone not FI might likely develop illnesses due to financial stress/pressures)

Someone I can't see someone who is FI and chooses to retire early for non-health reasons (other than job stress perhaps), and being able to choose what they want to do, not having better odds for a longer life.
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Old 03-25-2014, 08:42 AM   #10
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That has always been the achilles heel of studies like these. Because some people who retire early do so because of medical problems (or maybe they were already dying when they "retired", such as a terminal cancer diagnosis), early retirement and early demise are not "independent events" and so, perhaps more than ever, correlation does not equal causation.
+1.

I bet WebMD looked at my own parents. My mom retired, if you can call it that, at age 55 when she got diagnosed with cancer. She really left her company, one she had been working at for only 4 years, on disability. She died a month before she turned 60.

My dad, meanwhile, retired for real at age 63. That was nearly 20 years ago and he is still alive and well at age 83.

I retired for real 5 years ago at age 45. I guess by WebMD's standards, I should have died a few years ago LOL!
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Old 03-25-2014, 10:47 AM   #11
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There have been countless articles suggesting retirement improves longevity and countless others showing just the opposite, often authored by someone who doesn't grasp the variables to begin with.

I'd guess it has little to do with early retirement.
  • People who retire and maintain their health, social connections and/or satisfying activities probably live as long on average as those who retire later.
  • People who retire and improve their health, social connections and/or enjoy more engaging activities (than work) probably live longer on average than those who retire later.
  • And people who retire and lead a sedentary, unhealthy, isolated life with few activities probably have shorter lifespans on average than those who retire later.
The linked study simply tells me that sadly too many people fall into the latter category, which is something worth knowing. But "early" is not necessarily the cause.

And as another member noted, many who retire early do so for health reasons, so they're part of a self-selecting group. Their experience doesn't provide any insight for healthy retirees.
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Old 03-25-2014, 11:53 AM   #12
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The good news is, if you die early you have a better chance of your money lasting
Isn't that reassuring?
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Old 03-25-2014, 12:11 PM   #13
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The good news is, if you die early you have a better chance of your money lasting
I still like to die earlier.
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Old 03-25-2014, 12:28 PM   #14
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This study has been reviewed several times since it was published almost 8 years ago. The bottom line is that correlation does not imply causation. A cohort study cannot prove causation.
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Old 03-25-2014, 12:51 PM   #15
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I'll take my chances with ER vs staying working! Working meaning employed in a job, not meaning working around the house and garage. I believe the key to any longevity question is how you take care of your health. Ignore your health or have bad habits and lifestyle choices, you tend to die sooner. ER also provides a lower stress level for most, and high stress has always been detrimental to longevity.
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Old 03-25-2014, 01:19 PM   #16
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+1

ER and live longer - that'd be REs proper response to the study. Of late, I have become convinced that my current job's stress is shortening my life. Additional rich being accumulated is good but not at the expense dying earlier.
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Old 03-25-2014, 01:27 PM   #17
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My uncle had a heart attack at age 48, so he chose to retire. He celebrates his 90th birthday later this year. Early retirement isn't a death sentence. It's what you do with your life that matters more.
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Old 03-25-2014, 01:27 PM   #18
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I still like to die earlier.
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+1

ER and live longer - that'd be REs proper response to the study. Of late, I have become convinced that my current job's stress is shortening my life. Additional rich being accumulated is good but not at the expense dying earlier.
robnplunder,
You are confusing me.
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Old 03-25-2014, 02:00 PM   #19
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"I still like to die earlier" <--- It's my attempt to say that I want to RE.

I have OMY syndrome. While I work, I am padding my RE fund. But I suspect it is shortening my life due to work related stress.

I hadn't my 3rd cup of coffee today ....
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Old 03-25-2014, 02:06 PM   #20
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... I hadn't my 3rd cup of coffee today ....
That explains everything!
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