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Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing

Retirement linked to lower stress only for top jobs shows research

3 May 2017

MICRA sociologist Tarani Chandola, has published a new paper suggesting that the period around retirement may widen socio-economic inequalities in stress and health.

‘Our research found retirement was associated with lower stress levels, but only for those in the top jobs’, said Professor Chandola.

The new article in the Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences shows that socio-economic differences in cortisol levels – a key biomarker associated with stress - increase, rather than decrease, around retirement.

‘It may seem counter-intuitive that stopping low status work which may be stressful does not reduce biological levels of stress’, he adds. ‘This may be because workers who retire from low status jobs often face financial and other pressures in retirement. This study suggests that people's stress levels are not just determined by immediate circumstances, but by long run factors over the course of their lives.'

The paper draws on analysis of the 7th, 8th and 9th waves of the Whitehall II civil servants study and was written in collaboration with Patrick Rouxel (UCL), Michael G. Marmot (UCL) and Meena Kumari (Essex).

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