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Job Satisfaction Essential to Elders' Work Force Retention

Study findings have implications for attempts to convince workers to stay longer in the work force

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Because retirement may reduce the burden of workers' self-perceived health problems, improved conditions for workers approaching retirement are essential to maintain labor-market participation, according to a study published online Nov. 9 in The Lancet.

Hugo Westerlund, M.D., of Stockholm University in Sweden, and colleagues examined self-rated health in 14,714 employees from the French national gas and electricity company for up to seven years before and seven years after retirement.

Compared to the year before and after retirement, the researchers estimated that the prevalence of suboptimum health decreased from 19.2 to 14.3 percent, that this corresponded to a gain of eight to 10 years, and that the effect was maintained through seven years post-retirement. Greater increases in suboptimum health while still at work were found in those in poor work environments and in those with health complaints before retirement. These factors were also associated with greater improvement post-retirement, however, those with a combination of high occupational grade, low demands, and high satisfaction at work showed no such retirement-related improvement, per the researchers.

"Our findings should cause concern for policy makers attempting to convince workers to stay longer in the work force," the authors write. "Older workers who have deteriorating perceived health, and who might additionally be aware that many of their slightly older friends and former colleagues enjoy excellent health since they retired, might feel more motivated to retire early than to continue working beyond statutory retirement age."

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