NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Early Retirement, Mental Health and Social Networks

Axel Börsch-Supan, Morten Schuth

Chapter in NBER book Discoveries in the Economics of Aging (2014), David A. Wise, editor (p. 225 - 250)
Conference held May 9-11, 2013
Published in June 2014 by University of Chicago Press
© 2014 by the National Bureau of Economic Research
in NBER Book Series - The Economics of Aging

This paper explores the inter-relationships between early retirement, mental health--especially cognition--and the size and composition of social networks among older people. While early retirement enables more leisure and relieves stressful job conditions, it also accelerates cognitive decline. We argue in this paper that part of this accelerated cognitive ageing occurs because social networks shrink especially after early retirement. Social contacts are a side effect of employment that keeps workers mentally agile. Social contacts, especially with friends, however, decline gradually after retirement, with an acceleration effect when retirement was early. The paper therefore puts some shade on the popular notion that early retirement is bliss.

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Commentary on this chapter: Comment, Elaine Kelly
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