Work Keeps Seniors Whistling

Work Keeps Seniors Whistling – Brief Article

Peter Rebhahn

Losing a job hurts at any age, but a new study suggests that layoffs of older workers should carry health warnings.

Yale University researchers compared data from the Health and Retirement Study, an ongoing national survey of people over 51, on displaced and continuously employed workers. They discovered more mental and physical health problems among the laid off, especially those who weren’t married. These workers were more likely to report difficulty performing everyday tasks, such as climbing stairs, and showed more signs of depression.

The study’s findings, published in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Science, debunk the notion that older workers adapt easily to job loss. “The story that it doesn’t really matter because they’re at the end of their worklife is not upheld by these data at all,” says Elizabeth H. Bradley, Ph.D., study author and a Yale assistant professor of epidemiology. Older workers may suffer because they identify more closely with their jobs, she says, and money worries in the last decade of work–when many Americans are saving for retirement–might also play a part.

Could interventions that target older workers ease the transition? Bradley says the answer may lie in data from Europe, where the government provides a wider safety net for displaced workers. U.S. policy makers are now faced with an aging population and rising health care costs in an era of downsizing, but while interventions may lower health care costs, they won’t be free. “It’s unclear whether that responsibility should fall to the private or public sectors,” Bradley says. “That depends on your politics.”

COPYRIGHT 2000 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group