Working Longer Solves (Almost) Everything

Robert Powell, CFP®

Research on making it easier for people to work longer has tended to focus on economic security, according to a recently published paper, Working Longer Solves (Almost) Everything: The Correlation Between Employment, Social Engagement and Longevity.

But Tim Driver, the co-author of paper and president of the Age Friendly Foundation, has found a link between working longer and health and longevity. 

Purely age-based retirement policies have led to complications and unintended consequences including insufficient retirement resources, possible depletion of Social Security, and flawed perceptions of older workers, Driver noted in the paper.

By working longer, older adults are better able to support themselves, remain healthier, and live longer, according to Driver. 

What's more, new data show that, when employed, older adults are as much as four times more socially engaged, offsetting deepening concerns worldwide about the adverse effects of loneliness, particularly on older populations. 

And all that means that the very definition of retirement should be reconsidered in light of increasing data suggesting that traditional retirement can be detrimental to financial, mental and physical health, according to Driver.

The Business Case for Older Workers

In addition, Driver said there's a business case for older workers.

One, employers benefit from both the work experience and life experience that older workers provide.

Two, older workers provide employers with the opportunity for a lower turnover rate and increased workforce flexibility.

Three, longer tenure produces not only a significant economic benefit to employers in terms of the cost savings related to acquiring and training replacement workers, but also through increased customer satisfaction.

And four, the cost to small employers for providing health care to older workers can actually be less than the cost of healthcare for younger employees, Driver noted.

 The Societal Health Case for People Working Longer

Working longer is also beneficial to the economy as a whole, according to Driver. It increases gross domestic product (GDP), provides skilled and less skilled labor, reduces the cost and burden of caring for older adults, and helps to shore up the federal Social Security system as workers continue to make contributions through payroll taxes.

Benefits to Older Workers 

Older workers also benefit from continued participation in the workforce, according to Driver. Work provides a means for older adults to remain engaged in their communities. In addition to reaping economic benefits from employment, they will be healthier for it, less isolated, and happier.

In fact, employment among older workers may lead to as much as four times as much social interaction, according to Driver.

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