Single and male? Retirement might not be beneficial for your mental health


Retirement is a major professional and personal milestone, and the welfare effects are varied and complex. Jan van Ours, Professor of Applied Economics at Erasmus School of Economics, and Matteo Picchio, Associate Professor in Economics at Marche Polytechnic University, investigate the impact of retirement on mental health in the Netherlands.

Why the Netherlands?

The Netherlands is an interesting case study for at least two reasons. Employment rates among older workers are relatively high and early retirement programmes are rapidly vanishing in the country. Most Dutch people retire at the age at which they become entitled to the state pension, right now this is at 66 years and 4 months. People are not bound to retire at this age, but many workers do so, whether this is their preference or not.

In their study, they investigated the spillover effects between partners and explored the possibility that the retirement of one partner can potentially affect the mental health of the other, in addition to affecting the welfare of the person leaving work. Besides that, they focused on gender en marital status in the effect of retirement on mental health.

Retirement has negative effects on single men

Van Ours and Picchio found that there is an inherent heterogeneity in the retirement effects according to gender and marital status. For partnered men, retirement appears to have positive mental health effects. In contrast, the mental health effects are often negative for single men. Many collective labour agreements do not take this into account. Allowing for greater overall flexibility in the retirement process would have welfare-improving effects, according to van Ours and Picchio.

Erasmus School of Economics
More information

Read more about this research on VOX CEPR Policy Portal, 2 February 2020.