Chris Croft's Personal Blog

June 3, 2011

Life expectancy after retirement

Filed under: Careers, Happiness, Time Management — chriscroft @ 11:46 am

I sent this out as a tip last week, and, as I expected, got lots of replies!

The main themes of the replies seem to be

a) “What if you don’t retire at 65 but keep on working?” – I don’t know the answer, but I suspect that keeping working does keep you alive longer, but if you eventually retire at, say 75, then you probably don’t last long after that

b) “What about other professions?” Yes, this would be great, because the difficulty is how do you assess how stressed a job is? – If anyone has any links to websites which have life expectancy after retirement sorted by profession, I’d love to know. Someone told me that only 30% of Naval Chief Petty Officers make it to the retirement age of 55! But is this really true? Come on all you actuaries out there – what have you got??

c) “Is it all just an urban myth?” – I was sent one link to a site claiming this, saying that Boeing have condemned it all as a myth, but the site was less credible than the original one that mentioned the Boeing stats, so who knows? Certainly there is lots of anecdotal evidence of people living to old ages but also of people keeping over just after retiring…

and here’s another site that looks very authoritative – I think the data looks as if it really is true!

d) “Is the data skewed in some way, like richer people can afford to retire earlier and are already likely to be healthier?” – again, I have no way of knowing. If anyone has more info I’d love to hear from them

e) “Can we have the link to the Guardian article?” I wish I could find this! i have searched the Grauniad website to no avail. I do wonder whether information on life expectancy is taken down from the net, as the government don’t want us to know that we won’t draw most of our pensions, work is all there is, “behave and you’ll have a nice retirement” is all a myth etc. Also, the money men who run the annuity schemes don’t want us to know the real odds and how much we are paying them for how little we’ll probably get. Just a paranoid theory of mine!


anyway, here is my original post:

Possibly a depressing one this week, but then again, you need to know!

Key facts: (and these apply only from people retiring from stressful jobs):

For people retired at the age of 50, their average life span is 86;
whereas for people retired at the age of 65, their average life span is only 66.8.

For every year one works beyond age 55, one loses 2 years of life span on average.

The Boeing experience is that employees retiring at age of 65 receive pension checks for only 18 months, on average, prior to death. Similarly, the Lockheed experience is that employees retiring at age of 65 receive pension checks for only 17 months, on average, prior to death. I have heard the same figures for UK teachers (the article was in the Guardian, so it must be true…)

retire die left


See also

The moral is that if you’re able to retire early, even if the financial deal isn’t great, take it!

So if you’d rather be in denial then sorry I told you about this, but I do hope it helps you make informed decisions – apart from anything, to avoid stress if you can (…if only!)

Onwards and Outwards




  1. I think the trick is always to be working at an appropriate and manageable level of stress. The standard corporate career doesn’t work this way. Too often, people work in progressively more stressful jobs as they get older (and usually less healthy), then suddenly stop exhausted and do nothing. This, I suspect, is the recipe for the phenomenon that shows up in your stats.

    Comment by Martin Herrington — June 4, 2011 @ 8:42 pm

  2. Hi. Your report is a 25+ year old Urban Myth. Boeing themselves have got so fed up with it they have published statistics showing it is not true. Their conclusion is that it makes absolutely no difference, and that their employees are (currently) living to 78 on average, higher than the US average.

    Comment by Paul Robson — November 12, 2011 @ 11:47 pm

  3. The “Boeing findings” were confirmed by another study. University Amsterdam, Tinbergen Institute studied Dutsch civil servants, who took an early retirement.

    IT IS NOT AN URBAN MYTH! However, it is obviously politically incorrect, thus labelled a meme.

    Comment by Art — September 22, 2013 @ 6:56 am

  4. Anecdotally, in the 1980’s during my time as a US Navy medical officer, we were told the average number of monthly paychecks collected by retiring Navy Chiefs was eleven. This is eerily close to the Boing findings you listed presuming they usually retired at age 65. After a long career they were so specialized they had no carry-over skills to keep them engaged in civilian retirement. I believe you have to look more into whether the retiree had something to engage them after retirement – something besides beer and passive entertainments…

    Comment by Frank Erickson, M.D. — December 13, 2016 @ 3:56 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: