Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Does Working Longer Make People Healthier and Happier?

Calvo, Esteban (2006): Does Working Longer Make People Healthier and Happier?

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PURPOSE: This study addresses the impact of late-life paid work on physical and psychological well-being. METHODS: Longitudinal data was drawn from the Health and Retirement Survey and the RAND-HRS data base for more than 6,000 individuals aged 59 to 69 who were working or not-working in the year 2000 and were alive in 2002. Well-being was assessed by using a set of six measures including: self-rated health; self-rated memory; activities of daily living; instrumental activities of daily living and mood indicators. The study controls for previous well-being status in 1998 and for demographic and socioeconomic factors. RESULTS: Those who worked in 2000 tended to report greater well-being in 2002 than those who did not work in 2000, even after introducing rigorous controls (p<.01). Working in undesirable jobs changes the favorable effects of paid work on mood indicators and mortality. For those forced into retirement (20% of the sample), work is not an alternative. IMPLICATIONS: This study suggests that late-life work will help most people maintain their overall well-being. While working longer seems beneficial for most people, it will likely have negative consequences for some. The type of job seems to be a critical factor. Another critical factor is the opportunity to continue working. Older workers may be willing to prolong paid work, but, in order to find a job, they need to be able to work and have a real demand for their labor. Gerontologists and policymakers need to consider these factors when evaluating proposals to keep people in the labor force.

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