|Abstract or Summary
- Retirement is one of the most important transitional events in later life. Despite a large body of research examining the impacts of retirement on health, questions still remain regarding the relationship between retirement timing and subsequent health and survival. Previous research examining the existence, direction, and magnitude of the relationship between retirement timing and health has produced mixed results and is limited by a number of issues including inconsistency in the definition and measurement of retirement and retirement timing, lack of large-scale nationally representative data, and insufficient adjustment for the healthy worker survivor bias and other confounding factors. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a population-based longitudinal study comprising a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults aged 50 years and over, this study aimed to examine the distribution and predictors of retirement timing and to gain an in-depth understanding of its impacts on longevity. The average age at retirement for healthy retirees, individuals who did not consider health was an important reason to retire, was 64.9 years (SD = 3.8 years), with younger generation and individuals with more wealth resources retiring earlier. Unhealthy retirees, individuals who reported health was an important reason to retire, on average, retired approximately half year earlier than healthy retirees (64.3 vs. 64.9). Among healthy retirees, retirement timing was strongly related to survival, with a one-year increase in age at retirement associated with an 11% lower risk of all-cause mortality (95% CI: 8%, 15%). Relationship between retirement timing and mortality was not conditional on socio-demographics including birth cohort, gender, race/ethnicity, education, wealth, occupation, and marital status. Results were similar for unhealthy retirees. Together, these findings provide insight to the relationship between retirement timing and subsequent health outcomes in older adults. In addition, these results indicate the need for future research that aims to develop a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the relationship between retirement timing and longevity. Furthermore, such research could elucidate important criteria for evaluating the labor market policies that aim to increase retirement age to promote extended working life.