I recently told a friend that I thought my husband would live longer if he worked part time even though he was forced into retirement early by a small family owned business with no ethics(just like me!) He loves his 2003 Mustang GT, and as long as he continues to work part time, we can afford 3 cars. Not to mention the fact that in the winter, he watches a lot of TV and indulges in his favorite snacks, cashews and potato chips. He is very active in the summer with our vegetable garden and keeping up with the yard work, but in the winter he is bored if it does not snow. When I was forced into retirement at age 53, I felt displaced, bored, and guilty. Within a year, I found Etsy, 2 years old at the time, which provided a vehicle for indulging in my passions for sewing and crocheting. I continue to have fun selling my designs and patterns.
It seemed to me that over the years I heard a lot of men passed away within a year of retiring. And many of the older women I worked with told me to work as long as possible. Indeed, my first boss, who retired and moved to Florida at age 57, wished that she had worked longer. She got bored playing golf three times a week.
Some research shows that people are happier working and complaining about it than they are when they are not working. The average retired senior watches over 50 hours of TV. Many do not socialize and feel isolated and depressed. In a study done in Chicago in the late 1980’s, the researchers dubbed this “the paradox of work.” They found that if you don’t work, or have an job that leaves you feeling unfulfilled, it helps to find a hobby or interest that gives you purpose, identity, and a sense of autonomy.
Benjamin Hunnicut, an historian at the University of Iowa, envisions a society where many people do not work, where universities become cultural centers, and we do not feel guilty if we are not productive in the sense that we have paying jobs in the workforce.
For more on this subject there is an interesting article in the Atlantic Monthy.