Retirement and cognitive development: are the retired really inactive?
This paper uses longitudinal test data to analyze the relation between retirement andcognitive development. Controlling for individual fixed effects, we find that retirees facegreater declines in information processing speed than those who remain employed.However, remarkably, their cognitive flexibility declines less, an effect that appears to bepersistent 6 years after retirement. Both effects of retirement on cognitive developmentare comparable to those of a five to six-year age difference. They cannot be explained by(1) a relief effect after being employed in low-skilled jobs, (2) mood swings or (3) changesin lifestyle. Controlling for changes in blood pressure, which are negatively related tocognitive flexibility, we still find lower declines in cognitive flexibility for retirees. Sincethe decline in information processing speed after retirement holds particularly for thelow educated, activating these persons after retirement could lower the social costs ofan aging society.
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