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Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing

ILC research report

14 December 2017

The ILC (International Longevity Centre) released two complementary research reports at the start of December which have both found that physical and mental illness at younger ages can have a significant impact on employment and mental wellbeing in later life.

MICRAs Chris Phillipson worked with the Uncertain Futures consortium with Sarah Vickerstaff of  the University of Kent. The Uncertain Futures team produced ‘Exploring retirement transitions’. Their study examined the experiences of children born in 1958 (analysis of the National Child Development Study)

Analysis of this data found that  children (from ages as young as 7 years old) who were reported as exhibiting signs of depression, stress or worry were more likely to be unemployed, permanently sick or both by age 55. While children reported for disobedience, aggressiveness or bullying on at least three occasions show increased risk for unemployment, permanent sickness and being homemakers than children not reported as displaying these behavioural issues. The Telegraph newspaper reported on these findings and focused their article on “homemakers” being more likely to suffer from mental health problems. Sarah Vickerstaff is quoted “I think there's the question on whether mental distress in childhood is more likely to lead to someone not being in the labour market and whether that for women especially is reflected in them being homemakers. But then we know from other research that people who are out of the labour market for any length of time and want to be employed can have problems with their mental health,"

The Uncertain Futures team are concerned with those over 55s who are working long hours despite needing greater flexibility due to ill health or caring responsibilities and who may not be able to afford to take phased retirement. The team are calling for employers to offer ‘pre-retirement check-ups’ for staff approaching the state pension age to discuss their plans and options for the future. In addition to this they are calling for the Government to consider allowing people to have partial access to their state pension before state pension age.

Both reports advocate the adoption of a “life course approach” to mental health strategies in the belief that early intervention and supporting people of all ages is key to ensuring people can continue to work into old age.

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