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Young People’s Retirement May Impair Brain Function: Study

October 30, 2020

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

5 min read

Young People’s Retirement May Impair Brain Function: Study
Young People’s Retirement May Impair Brain Function: Study

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 early-onset dementia.

To establish this finding, we examined the impact of a rural retirement program in China introduced in 2009 that provided participants with stable income if they stopped working after the official retirement age of 60 years. We found that people who took the program and retired within a year or two experienced cognitive decline, a 1.7% decline in general intelligence compared to the general population. This decrease is roughly equivalent to three IQ points and could make it difficult for someone to stick to a medication schedule 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 with 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. While 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 doing less or no work 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 pension systems are widely implemented around the world to ensure the well-being 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 improve these effects is to keep engaging in social activities and using your brain the way 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 can 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 lab I run is to better understand the causes and consequences of changes in what economists refer to as “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 most important 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.