How Does Delayed Retirement Affect Mortality and Health?

Older Americans have been retiring later for a number of reasons, including jobs that are becoming less physically demanding, the shift from defined benefit to defined contribution pensions, and changes in Social Security’s incentives. What are the implications of working longer for workers’ mortality and health? Answering this question is complicated, because work and health are jointly determined – healthy people with lower mortality tend to work longer. Previous studies looking at the causal effect of work on mortality and health have found mixed results and have tended to focus on the effects of early retirement, not delayed retirement. A simple assumption would be that the relationship between them is symmetric. But it is unclear that that assumption is correct – after all, people who decide to keep working are likely a healthier group than those who stop early. This paper uses administrative data from the Netherlands and exploits policy variation designed to delay retirement to explore the links between work and health outcomes.