Action and AdvocacyActive AgeingEmploymentIncomesSeniors

There are a number of factors that impact the decision of when to retire. For some people they may have no other choice but to retire later in life. New research led by Curtin University shows that rather than age being a critical deciding factor of when to retire, job strain, people’s occupations, financial access and geographical location had significant impacts on a person’s overall health.

The research, published in the Journal of Industrial Relations, analysed 13 years of data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey to determine whether early retirement at age 60 or traditional retirement at age 65 had a significant impact on an individual’s physical or mental health.

Recent reforms to delay the qualifying age for access to age pension will increase by six months every two years to 67 years by July 2023. Lead author Associate Professor Kantha Dayaram, from the School of Management at Curtin University, said the increased demand for age pension in Australia has led to reforms in extending the retirement age but this could be unfavourable for some Australians.

Associate Professor Dayaram said, “Although Australia has no mandatory retirement age, people who are seeking to retire are currently able to access their age pension at 65 or older, depending on the year they were born, and employer based superannuation funds at age 60.  Our study found that there are no significant physical or mental health effects for males and females if they retire early or delay retirement to age 65. However, we did find that men and women with labour intensive jobs experienced lower physical and mental health if they retired later, compared to those who worked in professional and managerial jobs”.

“Our research also found that male retirees who had access to superannuation funds experienced better mental health outcomes than females with superannuation funds, and female retirees living in remote locations experienced lower mental health outcomes than their urban counterparts. The findings highlight the impact of our jobs, financial status and living location on our health when we retire”.

Associate Professor Dayaram explained that the findings might be of interest to policy makers and employers who need to find suitable ways to address this, such as workforce planning, flexible work arrangements, skills transferability and mentorship programs.

The paper was co-authored by Professor Alistair McGuire from the London School of Economics in the UK.

The paper titled, ‘Retirement reforms: occupational strain and health,’ can be found online here.