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Retirement and mental health: Analysis of the Australian national survey of mental health and well-being

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  • Butterworth, Peter
  • Gill, Sarah C.
  • Rodgers, Bryan
  • Anstey, Kaarin J.
  • Villamil, Elena
  • Melzer, David

Abstract

Nation-wide research on mental health problems amongst men and women during the transition from employment to retirement is limited. This study sought to explore the relationship between retirement and mental health across older adulthood, whilst considering age and known risk factors for mental disorders. Data were from the 1997 National Survey of Mental Health and Well-being, a cross-sectional survey of 10,641 Australian adults. The prevalence of depression and anxiety disorders was analysed in the sub-sample of men (n=1928) and women (n=2261) aged 45-74 years. Mental health was assessed using the Composite International Diagnostic Instrument. Additional measures were used to assess respondents' physical health, demographic and personal characteristics. The prevalence of common mental disorders diminished across increasing age groups of men and women. Women aged 55-59, 65-69, and 70-74 had significantly lower rates of mental disorders than those aged 45-49. In contrast, only men aged 65-69 and 70-74 demonstrated significantly lower prevalence compared with men aged 45-49. Amongst younger men, retirees were significantly more likely to have a common mental disorder relative to men still in the labour force; however, this was not the case for retired men of, or nearing, the traditional retirement age of 65. Men and women with poor physical health were also more likely to have a diagnosable mental disorder. The findings of this study indicate that, for men, the relationship between retirement and mental health varies with age. The poorer mental health of men who retire early is not explained by usual risk factors. Given current policy changes in many countries to curtail early retirement, these findings highlight the need to consider mental health, and its influencing factors, when encouraging continued employment amongst older adults.

Suggested Citation

  • Butterworth, Peter & Gill, Sarah C. & Rodgers, Bryan & Anstey, Kaarin J. & Villamil, Elena & Melzer, David, 2006. "Retirement and mental health: Analysis of the Australian national survey of mental health and well-being," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(5), pages 1179-1191, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:62:y:2006:i:5:p:1179-1191
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Abid A. Burki & Mushtaq A. Khan & Sobia Malik, 2015. "From Chronic Disease to Food Poverty: Evidence from Pakistan," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 54(1), pages 17-33.
    2. Fiorillo, Damiano & Sabatini, Fabio, 2015. "Structural social capital and health in Italy," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 129-142.
    3. Hudson, Eibhlin & Barrett, Alan, 2013. "Peer Groups, Employment Status and Mental Well-being among Older Adults in Ireland," IZA Discussion Papers 7586, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Dang, Thang, 2017. "The Causal Effect of Retirement on Health Services Utilization: Evidence from Urban Vietnam," MPRA Paper 79693, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Zhang, Xiaohui & Zhao, Xueyan & Harris, Anthony, 2009. "Chronic diseases and labour force participation in Australia," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 91-108, January.
    6. Eric Delattre & Richard K. Moussa & Mareva Sabatier, 2019. "Health condition and job status interactions: econometric evidence of causality from a French longitudinal survey," Health Economics Review, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 1-18, December.
    7. Ann Barbara Bauer & Reiner Eichenberger, 2018. "Worsening Workers' Health by Lowering Retirement Age: The Malign Consequences of a Benign Reform," CREMA Working Paper Series 2018-02, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    8. Perera, G. & Di Gessa, G. & Corna, L. M. & Glaser, K. & Stewart, R., 2017. "Paid employment and common mental disorders in 50–64-year olds: analysis of three cross-sectional nationally representative survey samples in 1993, 2000 and 2007," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 84652, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    9. Hessel, Philipp, 2016. "Does retirement (really) lead to worse health among European men and women across all educational levels?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 151(C), pages 19-26.

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