Retire Early and Live Longer?!?!?!
In February, I wrote a post about a recent Stanford University study that examined the trade-off between saving more money today and working longer tomorrow.
Last month, Steveark at Slightly Early Retirement took things to another level, writing an interesting post in which he asked Will Early Retirement Kill You?
While Steveark didn’t find a definitive answer to his question, he posits that a longer life – regardless of whether one has retired or is financially independent – might be driven by two things: taking care of one’s health and identifying one’s purpose.
As a Baby Boomer who has already retired early, he suggests that Gen Xers and Millennials pursuing financial independence and early retirement might want to spend some time thinking about what’s next once they achieve FIRE, in case his hypothesis that purpose is correlated with longevity is accurate.
It sounds like good advice, and has definitely given me something to think about, since I have undoubtedly been more focused on trying to reach financial independence than trying to identify what might come next.
But a recent study by economists at the University of Amsterdam published in the journal of Health and Economics gives all of us who have been blindly focused on pursuing early retirement hope that it might be good for our health – even if we haven’t quite decided what we’ll do to keep life meaningful when we get there!
Jonathan Blumberg wrote about the study in an article at CNBC.com last month.
According to the study, male Dutch civil servants over the age of 54 who retired early were 42% less likely to die over the next five years than those who continued working.
The researchers hypothesized that there might be two reasons why those who retired early lived longer.
First was that retiring early might free up more time to live a healthier lifestyle.
Second was that retirement can be less stressful than work, and that stress can lead to hypertension.
The researchers noted that early retirees in the study were less likely to die of stoke or cardiovascular disease than their counterparts who continued to work.
Given the stress I sometimes experience from long hours in the office, commuting over an hour a day, and often having difficulty balancing a family time with a healthy diet and enough exercise, the explanations espoused by the researchers make sense to me intuitively.
Blumberg’s article goes on to discuss some of the conflicting evidence about longevity and early retirement that Steveark also touches upon in his post.
Similar to Steveark, Blumberg notes that “a job might also give you a sense of purpose, which research has shown to be associated with a host of benefits, including having a healthier heart and lower risk of dementia.”
He finishes by speculating that “leaving your job can come at a cost, but it does give you more free time. As long as you spend that time wisely, you might be able to prolong your life.”
Clearly, by only looking at a population that retired in their mid-50s and older, there could be some differences that might not translate perfectly to those of us trying to reach financial independence and retire early in our 40s, 30s, or earlier.
But I’ll still take the University of Amsterdam study as more evidence that there’s no reason to unnecessarily delay my quest for financial independence and early retirement!
Are you worried that a lack of purpose after retirement might have a negative impact on your longevity?