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Why Early Retirement Fails to Sustain Happiness

retirement savings . / Credit: Retirement Image via Shutterstock

Retiring early doesn’t mean you’ll be any happier.  In fact, the age at which men retire has little to do with improving their happiness during retirement. Men share the same feelings in retirement regardless of the age at which they retire, new research has found. 

Male retirees saw a boost in happiness immediately after retiring, the research showed, but after a few years of retirement that happiness began to decline.

"The way to think about retirement is like a sugar rush," researcher Elizabeth Mokyr Horner told BusinessNewsDaily. "People retire and they have this burst of happiness and they are relaxed and they are getting enough sleep and visiting their families and then the reality of aging comes to the forefront of their experience. They sort of have more negative experiences with retirement. By the time we hit 70, both the early retirees and late retirees had a decline in happiness."

This has particular importance for policies involving retirement, especially among those who worry about the effects of retiring later or pushing the retirement age back.

"A later formal retirement simply delays the well-being benefits of retirement in men, and age of formal retirement is relatively neutral with regard to overall happiness," said Mokyr Horner, who conducted the research as a part of her dissertation. "Given the growing fiscal pressures to adjust the age of retirement upwards, it can be inferred from my studies that well-being may be, on balance, affected only marginally — if at all — by such changes."

 For her research, Mokyr Horner, a postdoctoral researcher at the Stanford University, examined more than 18,345 retired men between ages 50 and 70. The information was taken from the 2006 Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement, the 2006 English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and the 2004 Health and Retirement Study.  The research was published online in Springer's Journal of Happiness Studies.

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