The effect of retirement on physical health

Am J Public Health. 1983 Jul;73(7):779-83. doi: 10.2105/ajph.73.7.779.


This prospective study compared pre- to post-retirement changes in physical health among male retirees with changes among age peers who continued to work. The 229 retirees and 409 workers aged 55-73 at follow-up were all participants in the Veterans Administration Normative Aging Study. Physical health at baseline and follow-up (three to four years apart) was rated on a four-point scale according to the findings of medical examinations. Although physical health declined generally over time, regression analyses showed no significant difference between eventual retirees and continuing workers on health change, after controlling for age and excluding men who retired due to illness or disability. Among retirees alone, pre- to post-retirement health change was also not significantly associated with several circumstances which purportedly make the retirement transition more stressful, such as mandatory retirement or retirement to a reduced standard of living. The results of this study of physical health, which corroborate those of other studies based on self-reported health measures and mortality data, support the conclusion that the event of retirement does not influence the risk of health deterioration.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Boston
  • Health Status*
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retirement*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires