NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

How Healthy Are Young Retirees And Older Workers?

November 30, 2000

Health and finances often play a role in decisions regarding early retirement and continuing in the work force. A recent report from the National Academy on an Aging Society finds that healthy retirees are more likely to be female, white and married; healthy workers are more likely to be male, white and married. The report determined health based on self-reporting criteria which placed them in two broad categories of "healthy" and "less healthy."

In general, healthy young retirees -- people age 51-59 -- are better off financially and more satisfied with their lives than young retirees who are not as healthy. But young retirees are generally less healthy than young workers. Of those over age 60, those remaining in the work force are healthier than those who have retired.

Some specific findings of the report include:

  • The median family income of those in better health is twice as high as those in worse health -- where over half have family incomes less than $20,000 -- and the median household wealth of the healthy is more than six times more than that of the less healthy.
  • Almost half (44 percent) of older workers -- people over age 60 -- in good health have incomes of $50,000 or more compared to less than one-quarter (24 percent) of less healthy workers.
  • Among young retirees, 96 percent of healthy retirees are satisfied with their lives as a whole, compared to 69 percent of less healthy retirees.

The report also found however that health was not as strong a determinant of the number of hours worked as age. It was not until after age 70 that there was a significant gap in which group continued to work full time.

Source: "How Healthy Are Young Retirees and Older Workers?" Data Profiles No. 3, October 2000, National Academy on an Aging Society, 1030 15th Street, N.W., Suite 250, Washington, D.C. 20005, (202) 408-3375.


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