Retiring younger might have an effect on mind features: research

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Retiring young could affect brain functions: study

A great way to improve the negative effects of retirement is to keep engaging in social activities.

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October
30, 2020

5 min read

This article has been translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors can occur due to this process.

This story originally appeared in The Conversation

Von Plamen Nikolov, Binghamton University, New York State University

According to a new economic study I conducted with my PhD student Alan Adelman, people who retire early accelerated cognitive decline and may even have dementia early.

To establish this finding, we examined the effects of a rural retirement program introduced by China in 2009 that provided participants with stable incomes if they stopped working after the official retirement age of 60 years. We found that individuals who participated in the program and retired experienced a cognitive decline within a year or two, representing a 1.7% decline in general intelligence compared to the general population. This drop is roughly equivalent to three IQ points and could make it difficult for someone to stick to a medication plan or do financial planning.

The biggest negative effect has been with what is known as "delayed recall," which measures a person's ability to remember something that was mentioned a few minutes earlier. Neurological research links problems in this area to the early onset of dementia.

advantages and disadvantages

Cognitive decline refers to cases when a person has trouble remembering, learning new things, focusing, or making decisions that affect their daily life. Although some cognitive decline appears to be an inevitable by-product of aging, a faster decline can have profoundly detrimental effects on life.

Understanding the causes has major financial consequences. Cognitive skills, the mental processes of gathering and processing information to solve problems, adapt to situations, and learn from experience, are critical to decision-making. They affect a person's ability to process information and are related to higher income and a better quality of life.

Retiring early and working less or not at all can pay off, like less stress, better nutrition, and more sleep. But, as we have found, it also has undesirable adverse effects, such as less social activity and less time spent challenging the mind, which far outweighed the positive.

While retirement systems are widely implemented around the world to ensure the wellbeing of older adults, our research suggests that they must be carefully designed to avoid significant and unintended adverse consequences. When people retire, they must weigh the benefits against the significant disadvantages of a sudden lack of mental activity. A great way to amplify these effects is to keep engaging in social activities and continuing to use your brain as you did at work.

In short, we show you that when you rest, you rust.

Cultural differences

Because we are using data and a program in China, the mechanisms by which retirement leads to cognitive decline may be context specific and do not necessarily apply to people in other countries. For example, cultural differences or other measures that can support the elderly may cushion some of the negative effects we see in rural areas of China due to increasing social isolation and decreased intellectual activity.

Therefore we cannot definitely say that the results will be extrapolated to other countries. We examine data from retirement programs in other countries like India to see if the effects are similar or how they differ.

Our research

A major focus of the economic research laboratory I run is to better understand the causes and consequences of changes in what economists call "human capital", especially cognitive skills, in the context of developing countries.

The mission of our laboratory is to generate research to inform economic policy and empower people in low-income countries to lift themselves out of poverty. One of the main ways to do this is to use randomized controlled trials to assess the effects of a particular intervention, such as: B. Early retirement or access to microcredit, to measure educational outcomes, productivity and health decisions.

This article was translated by El Financiero. This article is republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.