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ISER Working Paper Series 2016-06

Retirement and cognitive abilities


Publication date

01 Jul 2016


This paper investigates how retirement influences the cognitive abilities of British older workers. The analysis employs data from Understanding Society and relies on an instrumental variable approach to address endogeneity bias. Consistent with the "use it or lose it" hypothesis, we show that retirement induces cognitive decline, although the relationship is weaker for women employed in routine occupations. Disregarding potentially offsetting effects on other dimensions of health, we conclude that extending the working life has a beneficial effect on the cognitive capital of older workers and that maintaining a mentally engaging and stimulating life-style during retirement contributes to the cognitive health of the mature population.


Older People, Pensions, Psychology, Well Being, and Health

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