Retirement and Elderly’s Health in Japan: The Effect of Working Hours and Social Activity before Retirement

Masaaki Mizuochi, Nanzan University

Several studies have investigated the relationship between retirement and elderly’s health in developed countries, however, the effects on health are inconsistent among these studies. This study examines this relationship from the point of view of working hours and social activity before they retire. Japanese workers are known as workaholic, they usually do not have good balance between work and life. Those who overwork or do few social activities before retirement are predicted to worsen their physical and mental health after retirement.

The data used in this study is Longitudinal Survey of Middle-age and Elderly Persons (LSMEP), nationally representative longitudinal survey in Japan, conducted by Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW). From the LSMEP, we use wave one (2005) and wave 11 (2015). The activities of Daily Living (ADL), as a physical health indicator, and the Japanese version of Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6), as a mental health indicator, are used as dependent variables.

Respondents’ retirement decision is endogenous, being affected by respondent’s attributes, for example, age, education and marital status. This endogeneity causes the bias in the retirement effect. To solve the endogeneity problem, the Inverse Probability Weighting Regression Adjustment (IPWRA) method, known as doubly robust estimator, is applied. Estimation is conducted using some subsamples divided by working hours, working more than 40 hours in a week or no more than, and by the number of social activities involved, having more than three social activities or no more than.

The results obtained are summarized as follows: (1) In general, retirement deteriorates ADL and K6 for both male and female. (2) Retirement negative effect on ADL is larger for the respondents who overworked or did few social activities before retirement than who did not for both male and female. (3) Retirement negative effect on K6 contradicts the hypothesis for female.


Background

The ratio of elderly people in Japan has rapidly increased and moreover is predicted to increase continuously. This change of population structure causes a serious problem on the social security system, especially on the public medical insurance. To strengthen the stability of public medical insurance system, that is, to reduce the public medical expenditure for elderlies, keeping the elderly’s health good is crucial. To achieve the goal, it is necessary to investigate the relationship between retirement and health of elderlies.

Several studies have investigated the relationship between retirement and elderly’s health in developed countries. However, the effects on health are inconsistent among these studies: worsen (Dave et al. 2008; Shiba et al. 2017), improve (Charles 2004; Johnston and Lee 2009) and no effect (Sugisawa et al. 1997; Coe and Lindeboom 2008; Neuman 2008; Coe and Zamarro 2011; Behncke 2012). Therefore, examining this relationship, moreover, finding out the factors preventing from deteriorating elderly’s health caused by retirement is important.

This paper examines this relationship from the point of view of working hours and social activity before they retire. Japanese workers are known as workaholic, that is, they usually do not have good balance between work and life. Those who overwork or do few social activities before retirement are predicted to worsen their physical and mental health after retirement.

Methods

The data used in this study is Longitudinal Survey of Middle-age and Elderly Persons (LSMEP), nationally representative longitudinal survey in Japan, conducted by Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW). From the LSMEP, we use wave one (2005) and wave 11 (2015). The activities of Daily Living (ADL), as a physical health indicator, and the Japanese version of Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6), as a mental health indicator, are used as dependent variables.

We use only respondents who had no difficulty in ADL and had a job in wave one. Respondents’ retirement decision is endogenous, being affected by their attributes, for example, age, education and marital status. This endogeneity causes a bias in the retirement effect. To solve the endogeneity problem, the Inverse Probability Weighting Regression Adjustment (IPWRA) method, known as a doubly robust estimator, is applied. Estimation is conducted using some subsamples divided by working hours, working more than 40 hours in a week or no more than, and by the number of social activities involved, having more than three social activities or no more than.

Results

The results obtained in this study are summarized as follows: (1) In general, retirement deteriorate ADL and K6 for both male and female. (2) Retirement negative effect on ADL is larger for the respondents who overworked or did few social activities before retirement than who did not for both male and female. (3) Retirement negative effects on K6 contradict the hypothesis for female: Negative effect is smaller for the respondents who overworked or did few social activities before retirement than who did not. Negative effect for male is consistent with the hypothesis.

Conclusions

Working hours and social activity before retirement are crucial for physical and mental health of elderlies in Japan. To keep elderly’s health good after retirement, keeping balance between working life and private life before retirement is the key point in aging Japanese society.

References

Behncke, S. (2012) “Does retirement trigger ill health?,” Health Economics 21(3): 282-300.

Charles, K. K. (2004) “Is retirement depressing?: Labor force inactivity and psychological well-being in later life,” Research in Labor Economics 23: 269-299.

Coe, N. B. and Lindeboom, M. (2008) “Does retirement kill you? Evidence from early retirement windows,” IZA Discussion Paper Series No.3817, Institute for the Study of Labor.

Coe N. B. and Zamarro, G. (2011) “Retirement effects on health in Europe,” Journal of Health Economics 30(1): 77-86.

Dave, D., Rashad, I. and Spasojevic, J. (2008) “The effects of retirement on physical and mental health outcomes,” Southern Economic Journal 75(2): 497-523.

Johnston, D. W. and Lee, W. (2009) “Retiring to the good life? The short-term effects of retirement on health,” Economics Letters 103: 8-11.

Neuman, K. (2008) “Quit your job and get healthier?: The effect of retirement on health,” Journal of Labor Research 29(2): 177-201.

Shiba, K., Kondo, N., Kondo, K. and Kawachi, I. (2017) “Retirement and mental health: Does social participation mitigate the association? A fixed-effects longitudinal analysis,” BMC Public Health 17:526.

Sugisawa, A., Sugisawa, H., Nakatani, Y. and Shibata, H. (1997) “Effect of retirement on mental health and social well-being among elderly Japanese,” Nihon Koshu Eisei Zasshi 44(2):123-130.

Presented in Session 1176: Health, Wellbeing, and Morbidity