The Retirement Life

Bob Goldman on

Recently, it has come to our attention that there is more to work than work. There is also retirement.

Retirement is a quaint custom that used to be the rainbow's end of every worker's career path. In the good old days, after 40 or 50 years on the job, workers would receive a gold watch and a pension and live happily ever after.

(A "pension" is another quaint custom. Employers no longer provide pensions, but workers are free to save as many pennies, nickels, bottle caps and paper clips as they want in an empty Bran Flakes box. This is known as a nest egg.)

One important question about retirement today concerns longevity.

"The Connection Between Retiring Early and Living Longer" is the title of a recent article by Professor Austin Frakt in The New York Times. The good professor does not mince words. "You may not need another reason to retire early, but I'll give you one anyway," he writes. "It could lengthen your life."

The basis for this intoxicating claim is research done in the Netherlands, where a study showed that Dutch civil servants who took early retirement were "2.6 percentage points less likely to die over the next five years than those who did not retire early."

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Of course, all of the Dutch workers had those pension thingees, plus, the only health problems they ever faced were splinters from their wooden shoes. Still, the conclusion is significant. If you think your job is killing you, you're probably right.

Interestingly, some experts believe that working actually makes you healthier. As Frakt points out, "work provides income and, for some, health insurance -- both helpful for maintenance of well-being."

How anyone can see your paycheck and have a feeling of well-being is certainly a mystery, but your company's health plan definitely prolongs life. Getting a free bottle of mercurochrome and a box of cotton balls every Jan. 1 should keep you alive and kicking, no matter the health threat. Though the 50 percent co-pay on the cotton balls is a little annoying.

Work also promotes health by providing "purpose and camaraderie." This is very important since "evidence is mounting that loneliness and social isolation are linked to illness, cognitive decline and death."


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