(WJW) – Many people would love to retire early, but a new study suggests that it might not be the best thing for your health.
According to a study published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, an early retirement may speed up cognitive decline in older adults.
Researchers in the study looked closely at data from China’s National Rural Pension Scheme, a program introduced in 2009 letting residents 60 and older opt in for financial benefits.
With that data and results from the Chinese Health and Retirement Longitudinal Survey, researchers studied how retirement impacts cognitive skills.
The study suggests that access to the retirement program led to major downsides cognitively.
“Participants in the program report substantially lower levels of social engagement, with significantly lower rates of volunteering and social interaction than non-beneficiaries,” said researcher Plamen Nikolov, assistant professor of economics at Binghamton University.
Researchers say the most significant indicator of decline was delayed recall, a measure that’s used to predict dementia.
“We find that increased social isolation is strongly linked with faster cognitive decline among the elderly,” Nikolov said in the study.
The study stresses the importance of social engagement, especially after retiring, and Nikolov hopes his research will convince society to help people improve their cognitive function as they get older.
You can find the full study here.