Effects of part-time and full-time work on physical and mental health in old age

Recent studies analyzed the effect of retirement on mentaland physical health. Some of them find that retirementyields a loss in cognitive skills while others find that retirementpreserves physical health. When analysing the effectof retirement against work activity, these studies do notdistinguish between part-time and full-time work activity.We study how the amount of work hours affects the physicaland mental health conditions of US residents between 50 and75 years old in eleven waves (1992-2012) of the Health andRetirement Study. To avoid the potential bias due to the factthat deteriorating health conditions can cause employeesto work fewer hours, retirement eligibility ages are used asinstruments for part-time or full-time work decisions. Wealso control for, possibly health related, unobserved heterogeneityacross individuals. We find that working part-timeor full-time deteriorates self-reported health and memory.On the other hand, part-time and full-time working reducesbody weight, and full-time working improves the word recallscore. In general, health status of the elderly responds toworking part-time much more than it responds to workingfull-time, suggesting that the effect of number of hoursworked on health outcomes is nonlinear.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is een denktank en kennisnetwerk. Netspar is gericht op een goed geïnformeerd pensioendebat.

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