How long you live may not only depend on your diet, exercise
habits and genetics -- it could also be linked to how early you
retire, according to a study released last month by the Tinbergen
Institute at the University of Amsterdam.
Researchers from the university analyzed data relating to a 2005
decision to give Dutch civil servants a one-time opportunity to
retire at age 55, instead of the usual early retirement ages of 61
or 62 or the full retirement age of 65.
According to the study's findings, men who retired early
decreased their chance of dying within the next five years by 42.3
percent, or by 2.5 percentage points. Perhaps even more surprising
was the fact that these early retirees had the lowest probability
of death during that five-year period, even when compared to
younger demographics. Women didn't seem to experience the same
benefit, although females tended to have a lower death rate
The study hypothesized that the lower stress levels the early
retirees may have encountered could have contributed to their lower
mortality rates. Other studies, such as a 2011 report from Carnegie
Mellon University that found that stress may interfere with how the
body deals with inflammation, have suggested that stress could be a
contributing factor in some illnesses.
Weighing an early retirement
The study was intended to provide guidance on how early
retirements may impact public pension funds, but its lessons may be
relevant to individual retirement funds as well.
Early retirement combined with long life not only means you have
to stretch your retirement money over more years, but that you also
have fewer working years in which to sock away money into your
401(k), IRAs and
Given that the savings rates of U.S. workers have been
below 5 percent for most of the last decade
, it may be impossible for many to afford retirement at age 55. A
2013 study by the Employee Benefits Research Institute found that
nearly half of U.S. workers are not at all confident or not too
confident in their ability to retire comfortably in the future.
Also, unlike their Dutch counterparts in the study, U.S. workers
who retire at age 55 would have to completely self-fund their
retirement until age 62, the earliest age at which they can begin
receiving Social Security payments.
But the news for late retirees it isn't all bad. According to a
French study, working longer may help prevent Alzheimer's disease,
indicating that a late retirement may provide some benefits to
But whether you aim to retire early and live longer, or work
later and be mentally sharper, planning carefully for your
financial needs in retirement is likely a sensible move.