Social Inequalities in Health Among Older Adults After Retirement
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We are experiencing an aging society. Current evidence suggests that low occupational position, financial difficulty, and adverse psychosocial factors in working age are associated with a range of health problems after retirement (e.g., mortality, poor self-rated health, physical conditions, and reduced cognitive function). Generally, adverse conditions related to occupational position, financial situation, and workplace psychosocial factors (i.e., high job demands and low control) predict physical and mental health problems after retirement. Although there are some exceptions, the literature suggests that high work complexity and high psychological demands as well as high job control have a protective effect against declining cognitive function and development of dementia. Structural/contextual social determinants of health cannot be changed easily. It is therefore reasonable that countermeasures should target the workplace psychosocial environment that mediate structural/contextual social determinants of health. Providing employees with enriched work environments may have beneficial effects for retirees’ physical and mental conditions, thereby reducing social inequalities in health in later life. Further research is needed to disentangle various confounding/mediating factors and establish a clear theoretical framework. However, a challenge is how to implement necessary countermeasures.
KeywordsCognitive function Life course perspective Occupational position Psychosocial work environment
This study was supported by KAKEN Challenging Research (Exploratory): Exploration of methods of measurement and analyses of theory-based social class classification for health research in Japan (Project/Area Number 18 K19699) and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan (Industrial Disease Clinical Research Grants 2018, Grant Number 180701-01).
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