Retiring early may accelerate cognitive decline: study – New York Post
As they grow older, many Americans begin to think about the best time to retire.
Yet a new study throws some warning signs around that decision — as retiring early could actually worsen people’s health.
A recent paper published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization suggests that early retirement may accelerate cognitive decline in late adulthood.
“Participants in the program report substantially lower levels of social engagement, with significantly lower rates of volunteering and social interaction than non-beneficiaries,” said lead author Plamen Nikolov, assistant professor of economics at Binghamton University, State University of New York at the time of publication, in a press release about the study.
“We find that increased social isolation is strongly linked with faster cognitive decline among the elderly,” he also said.
Here’s how the study analyzed cognitive functioning.
With a rapidly aging population, China introduced a formal pension program in rural parts of the country in 2009 to combat poverty in old age.
A new study says that early retirement can lead to health problems.
It’s called the New Rural Pension Scheme (NRPS), Nikolov noted.
“The program is a pension benefit-defined contribution program, so think of that as a 401k in the U.S. — except that the government administers it in China,” he told Fox News Digital.
The program is a voluntary opt-in, “so you don’t have to participate.”
“The basic feature is that if you reach age 60, the benefits kick in — like an annuity that entitles you to monetary benefits,” he noted.
“So you don’t have to retire early to draw the benefits, but many [do] retire earlier than they would have without the program,” he also said.
The researchers analyzed this program using a cognitive survey called the Chinese Health and Retirement Longitudinal Survey (CHARLS) to see how retirement plans affect cognitive performance.
Participants in the pension program reported a reduced incidence of regular alcohol drinking compared to the previous year, the researchers found — but they also found that the participants reported lower rates of volunteering and social interaction compared to the non-beneficiaries.
They also noted that the increase in social isolation was strongly associated with faster cognitive decline among the elderly.
The study concluded that early retirement’s negative influence on mental fitness activities as well as social engagement outweighed the protective benefit on health behaviors.
The researchers found that the most significant indicator of cognitive decline was delayed recall, which previous research has shown to be an important predictor of dementia.
Nikolov and his team said their study and research design were geared to detect true causal effects of retirement on cognitive impairment.
“One of the toughest problems in economic and social science research is determining whether a relationship …….