Older workers healthier than retirees: StatsCan

Health issues often a factor in decision to fully retire and many older workers stay on the job because retirement savings are 'inadequate'

Older Canadians who have fully retired from work report worse general health, more chronic health conditions and were less physically active than their counterparts who remain at work, according to a study from Statistics Canada.

"Retirement, health and employment among those 55 plus" used data from from the 2009 Canadian Community Health Survey to examine Canadians aged 55 and older who had fully retired, those who had partially retired, those who had retired and returned to work, and those who had never retired.

Nearly one-quarter (24 per cent) of the fully retired said they were in poor or fair health, compared with 11 per cent of those who were partially retired and five per cent of those who had returned to work from retirement.

But poor health is not necessarily a consequence of full retirement since for many it influenced their decision to retire. About one-quarter of full retirees reported that poor health or a disability was a factor in their decision to retire compared with 16 per cent among the partially retired and 14 per cent among retirees who later returned to work.

Many of those who had yet to retire reported they were not financially prepared to leave work. Forty per cent said their financial plans for retirement were less than adequate. More than one-third of this group still had a mortgage on their homes compared with one-quarter of the partially retired and 11 per cent of the fully retired.

The partially retired were the most likely to report they retired because they were financially able to do so. Two-thirds of the partially retired worked on a part-time basis, that is, fewer than 30 hours per week. This compares with 11 per cent of those who had never retired and 22 per cent of retirees who had returned to work.

Retirees who had returned to work were the most likely to be in the top income bracket, corresponding to their high average level of education. Nevertheless, one-half reported financial considerations contributed to their decision to return to work.

Full retirement generally corresponded to lower income. Sixty per cent of people who had fully retired were in the two lowest income brackets in 2009, compared with less than 30 per cent of workers who had never retired.

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