At the start of the study ten years ago, all the women were healthy. Ten years later, of the 158 women who had turned 65, only 43.7% had worked right up to retirement age – 65. 46% had taken early retirement, whilst a third had been retired early due to illness.
Psychosocial stress at home and work appears to be a bigger reason for being put on sick leave than illness or unhealthy lifestyles. Over the ten year period, women who claimed to suffer from such stress were four times as likely to be put on sick leave.
The study also showed that women with a poor education were at greater risk of premature death or early retirement, whilst well educated women were more likely to be put on long-term sick leave.
Researchers believe that well educated women opt to stop working early in order to avoid potentially fatal illness. One participant wrote:
“If I continue working, I’ll get sick one way or another. It’s so stressful. I really want to do all the things I’ve dreamt of, but haven’t had the time for, before it’s too late. That’s why I’m choosing to finish work now.”