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Early Retirement, Mental Health, and Social Networks

Early Retirement, Mental Health, and Social Networks

(p.225) 6 Early Retirement, Mental Health, and Social Networks
Discoveries in the Economics of Aging
Axel Börsch-SupanMorten Schuth
University of Chicago Press

This paper explores the interrelationships 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.

Keywords:   early retirement, mental health, social networks, cognitive decline, social contacts

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