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J Health Econ. 2015 Sep;43:1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2015.05.001. Epub 2015 Jun 3.

Understanding the effect of retirement on health: Mechanisms and heterogeneity.

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DIW Berlin, Mohrenstrasse 58, 10117 Berlin, Germany; Health Economics Research Centre, Nuffield Department for Population Health, University of Oxford, UK; University of Hamburg, Germany. Electronic address:


This paper investigates the mechanisms behind the health effects of retirement. Using a Regression Discontinuity Design to exploit financial incentives in the German pension system for identification, I find that retirement improves subjective health status and mental health, while also reducing outpatient care utilization. I explore a wide range of health behaviors, time use, and effect heterogeneity as potential mechanisms. Relief from work-related stress and strain, increased sleep duration as well as more frequent physical exercise seem to be key mechanisms through which retirement affects health.


Health; Health behavior; Healthcare; Regression Discontinuity Design; Retirement

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