UCL News


UCL in the News: Health gap 'widest in retirement'

26 April 2007

A lifetime on a low wage physically ages a person eight years earlier than high earners, researchers found.

They followed more than 10,000 British civil servants aged 35 to 55, over a period of 20 years.

Physical health declined with age in all groups but most rapidly among those in the lowest occupational grades, the British Medical Journal reported. …

For example, the average physical health of a 70-year-old high earner was similar to the physical health of a low earner around eight years younger. …

Among high earners, retirement appeared to improve their mental health and wellbeing. But no similar improvement was seen in the lower occupational groups. …

Lead researcher Dr Tarani Chandola [UCL Epidemiology & Public Health] said: "There has always been an assumption that the health gap gets narrower with age as people retire.

"But retirement does not level the playing field. These health inequalities actually increase. This is not a time to get complacent."

He suggested a number of factors could explain the differences they found - including lifestyle habits and income. …

BBC News