Mental health differences among retirees and workers: findings from the Normative Aging Study

Psychol Aging. 1987 Dec;2(4):383-9. doi: 10.1037//0882-7974.2.4.383.


Researchers during the past decade have found little effect of retirement on physical health. However, retirement entails a number of losses, and its effect on mental health, as measured by the prevalence of psychological symptoms, is unclear. We examined psychological symptoms in a sample of 1,513 older men, participants in the Normative Aging Study, using the SCL-90-R (Derogatis, 1983). Analyses of variance indicated that retirees reported more psychological symptoms than did workers, even after controlling for physical health status. Exploratory analyses examining the circumstances of retirement found no effects for length of retirement or part-time employment, but did find effects for the timing of retirement. Both early and late retirees reported more psychological symptoms. Late workers (aged 66 and older) reported the fewest symptoms. Reasons for these findings are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Retirement*
  • Sick Role