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J Epidemiol Community Health. 2005 Jan; 59(1): 70–74.
PMCID: PMC1763370

Depression and early retirement: prospective population based study in middle aged men


Background: Mental depression is an important health problem in many countries. It reduces productivity at work and is the fastest increasing reason for early retirement.

Methods: This study followed up a Finnish cohort of 1726 men from 1984 to 2000. Depression was assessed at baseline by HPL depression score. Pension records were obtained from the national pension registers. Cox's regression analysis was used to estimate the associations of depression with the risk of all disability pensions combined, separately for different causes of disability, and non-illness based pension.

Results: During the follow up, 839 men (48.6%) received a disability pension. A total of 142 men (16.9% of all disability pensions) retired because of mental disorder and of these, 75 (52.8%) because of depression. After adjustment for the potential confounders, men in the highest third of depression score had an increased risk of non-illness based pension (RR 1.86 95% CI 1.37 to 2.51) and disability pension attributable to mental disorders (RR 2.74, 95% CI 1.68 to 4.46), chronic somatic diseases (RR 1.68, 95% CI 1.05 to 2.71), cardiovascular diseases (RR 1.61, 95% CI 1.12 to 2.32). The mean age of retirement for men with a high and low depression score was 57.6 years (SD 3.87) and 59.1 years (SD 3.65) (p<0.001) respectively.

Conclusions: A high depression score predicted disability attributable to any cause, especially mental disorders, and non-illness based pensions. Depressed people retired on average 1.5 years younger than those without depression. Further studies are needed to elucidate the pathways of how mental depression leads people to seek retirement pension.

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Selected References

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