Can Unemployment Impact One’s Life Expectancy?

Long-term unemployment doesn’t agree with men. A new study reports that men who are unemployed for more than two years show increased signs of aging. Researchers from Imperial College in London and the University of Oulu in Finland studied DNA samples from 5,620 men and women born in Finland in 1966.They measured structures called telomeres, which become shorter over a person’s lifetime and are linked to age-related illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The blood samples collected showed that men who had been unemployed for more than two of the preceding three years were more than twice as likely to have short telomeres as compared to the continuously employed men. The study did not find a correlation between unemployment and faster aging in women, but few women in the study were unemployed for long periods in their 30s.

In the press release, Dr. Jessica Buxton from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College said, “Stressful life experiences in childhood and adulthood have previously been linked to accelerated telomere shortening. We have now shown that long-term unemployment may cause premature aging, too.”

Maybe that’s another reason to consider working longer, working part-time in retirement or finding a sense of purpose after retirement. If you’ve ever watched someone struggle with the transition to retirement, you know that work delivers benefits beyond the paycheck. A job can be about more than the money. We all enjoy being part of a team, feeling needed and partnering with co-workers to achieve mutual goals. A job gives us the chance to share our talents and expertise and to be rewarded, financially and emotionally, for our efforts.

If you plan on working after you begin to take Social Security benefits or distributions from your IRA, adding benefits and distributions on top of your salary could place you in a higher tax bracket. Remember, you have the flexibility to delay distributions from your 401(K) until after you leave the company, but traditional IRAs require minimum distributions no later than age 70½, whether or not you are officially retired. So plan ahead.

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