Article Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

The secret to a happier, healthier life: Just retire


Feb. 27, 2017 Market Watch

Retirement, contrary to popular opinion, is not the time in which your satisfaction with life declines and your health deteriorates. Instead, it’s the exact opposite: Retirement is likely to improve your overall happiness and health, according to a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

And that improvement happens immediately, according to the authors of the paper, Aspen Gorry and Devon Gorry, both professors at Utah State University, and Sita Slavov, a professor at George Mason University.

But is it so obvious that retiring is better than working, and that you start to feel happier and healthier as soon as you retire?

Subcampaign: News Sold: MarketWatch : There Will Be Questions_rice15 Personal Finance

Below, Aspen Gorry answers our questions about the study, its implications and what those planning for retirement should take away from the study.

Question: What were the study’s goals?

Answer: We wanted to study the effect of retirement on people’s well being and health as well as their health-care utilization. This question is really difficult to assess in the data because when people are faced with poor health, they often retire. Thus, looking at the raw correlation between people’s health and retirement status can give a misleading picture. If unhealthy or unhappy people are more likely to retire it will appear that retirement is bad for health and happiness. We wanted to know the causal effect of retirement on these outcomes. Beyond the importance to individuals as they make retirement decisions, the answers to these questions are also important for policy as countries decide whether to extend Social Security eligibility ages since health-care costs are often paid by the government.

Can you describe your findings?

We find that retirement improves both happiness and health. We find that life satisfaction improves immediately upon retirement and these effects are long-lasting. While we don’t find immediate effects on measurable health outcomes, we do find positive health impacts four or more years beyond retirement. This finding is consistent with the idea that health changes slowly over time so that retirement can have long run health benefits. We find no effect of retirement on health care utilization.

What surprised you most about the findings?

We were surprised that the positive impact of retirement on reported well being was long lasting as many life events have been found to have only short-run effects that fade over time. Past studies also haven’t found measurable health impacts of retirement so the fact that there are long-run health benefits is a new finding. We believe that this finding is the result of data that covers a longer time period. Finally, our findings suggest that these health benefits are not the result of increased health care utilization as most measures of utilization are not affected by retirement.

Read More on Market Watch

Gene Upshaw Player Assistance Trust Fund

Apply Today

All Resources

Tell Me More

The Best Bank for You, 2017

Time to find a new bank? This might help.

Read More

A Benefits Site Built Around Player Feedback

Players’ involvement in the design process of the new NFLPlayerBenefits.com gave some surprising insights.

Read More

What Are the Odds the IRS Will Audit Your Tax Return?

The number of tax returns filed keeps going up, but what about the audit rates?

Read More

12 Secrets to Shopping at Home Depot

Make sure you save money by taking on DIY projects.

Read More

Risky Business: Sex

We continue to look at risk factors that can cause and worsen depression.

Read More

Penn State World Campus

More than 125 programs with tuition reductions for former players.

Read More

Risky Business: Exercise Extremes

Yet another risk factor for developing or exacerbating depression, we turn our attention to technology.

Read More

The Next Generation of You: Eric Kettani

Another glimpse into life after the NFL, this time with former player and active Naval Lieutenant Eric Kettani.

Read More