Relation of work and retirement to health and well-being in older age

Psychol Aging. 1991 Jun;6(2):202-11. doi: 10.1037//0882-7974.6.2.202.


Patterns of labor-force participation were studied with a broad array of indicators of physical and psychological well-being. The sheer amount of work--whether people work and, if so, how many hours they work--shows little relationship to health and well-being. Drawing on scattered existing research and theory, it is hypothesized and found that persons whose patterns of labor-force participation (or nonparticipation) reflect their personal preference report higher levels of physical and psychological well-being than do those whose level of labor-force involvement is constrained by other factors. The results do not differ by gender, age (65 years and older vs. 55-64 years), or occupation (professional vs. clerical or sales vs. blue-collar workers). Data are from 1,339 respondents 55 years of age or older in the Americans' Changing Lives Survey, a large national, cross-sectional survey of Americans 25 years of age and older with an oversample of those 60 years of age and older, and are analyzed by ordinary least squares multiple regression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Personality Assessment
  • Retirement / psychology*
  • Sick Role*
  • Social Environment
  • Work Schedule Tolerance