Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Retire Early and Live, Retire Later and Die?

This article about retiring early is not only for mid-lifers. It is for everyone who works no matter the age. Young folks, listen well. You still have time to plan and save for an early retirement.

Here is a link to an article regarding early retirement and longevity. It's a compelling reason to look at retiring earlier than you may have considered previously.

http://faculty.kfupm.edu.sa/coe/gutub/english_misc/retire1.htm

In brief, the article cites studies that show a correlation between early retirement and longevity.Here is a table.

Table 1 – Actuarial Study of life span vs. age at retirement.Age atRetirement Average Age At Death

49.9 - 86
51.2 - 85.3
52.5 - 84.6
53.8 - 83.9
55.1 - 83.2
56.4 - 82.5
57.2 - 81.4
58.3 - 80
59.2 - 78.5
60.1 - 76.8
61.0 - 74.5
62.1 - 71.8
63.1 - 69.3
64.1 - 67.9
65.2 - 66.8

I have no idea how well the studies were done or how big the population looked at. Apparently there were at least two studies done at Lockheed Martin and at Boeing. In Boeing's numbers, employees retiring at 65 typically received their pension checks for only 18 months. At Lockheed, employees retiring at 65 on average received their pension checks for 17 months. I think that these studies were done a couple of decades ago, so that may affect their results. People are generally healthier and more vital than in older times.

The supposed culprit in early death is work stress.

What can we take away from this? Obviously, not all of us are in a financial position to retire early. If you can't retire ahead of schedule, then what can you do?

Reduce job stress. This is very serious and can take as much as 20 years from your life span. Reduce job stress by taking breaks, changing jobs within a company or changing companies. Learn to take frequent breaks and meditate or do some deep breathing or take walks. This is not just to feel better, it is to save your life.

Take your vacation time every year without fail. No working while on vacation!

Do not take work home with you. Have a clear line between work and home to make it easier to relax when you are home.

Live your dreams. Changing to a career better suited to your lifestyle, your temperament and your desires and dreams, can literally add years to your life. It's worth the effort to figure out what you really want to do and start doing it.

Ask questions about your work life. Why are you working so hard? Whom does it serve? What do you gain from it? What do you lose? What underlying need are you fulfilling by striving and working so hard? Does this really serve you? In what ways? Do you still want the same things you wanted when you started your career (climbing the ladder, more money, prestige, a title, the corner office, your parent's approval, etc.). If not, what changes can you make right now? What do you like or not like about your current work? Your current job? Your current work environment?

Here is a link to another study of railroad workers that corroborates the above study, but not quite as dramatically.

http://www.rrb.gov/opa/qa/pub_0702.asp

Here is a link to another study that shows a much smaller correlation between early retirement and longevity.

http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1273451

It does not seem to corroborate the above studies. I also have heard of (although can't find particulars) that working longer makes you live longer. I suspect that is for those who have no life outside work. Wonder if the environments had significantly different stress rates? I don't think they actually looked at stress in any of these studies, however, stress has long been mentioned as a factor in illnesses and diseases, some of which lead to early death. I know I have worked in both the oil and aerospace industries, both in responsible IT jobs, and there was no comparison of the stress levels. Aerospace was by far more stressful. But that may have been at that time period, at that office, just my job, or whatever else could have affected it.

Either way, reducing stress on the job can only help and may save your life. I hope this will encourage you to start planning for this major life change now.

Written by: Mary Anne Fields, Houston, TX, USA - http://midlifeunfolds.blogspot.com/2007/05/retire-early-and-live-retire-later-and.html

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