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Media statement

Working Paper published: Health and Retirement of Older New Zealanders

Issue date: 
Thursday, 7 June 2012
Corporate author: 
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The Treasury today published a research paper under its Working Papers series which examines factors associated with older New Zealanders’ participation in paid employment.

The paper, entitled Health and Retirement of Older New Zealanders, delves into survey data provided by Massey University and the Family Centre Social Policy unit, and follows a group of older New Zealanders through the years 2006, 2008 and 2010.  

The paper, authored by Emma Gorman, Dr Grant Scobie and Dr Andy Towers, and available at, addresses the question of the extent to which the labour force participation decisions of those aged 54 to 70 are influenced by their mental and physical health status, in addition to a wide range of economic, social and demographic variables. 

The results of the paper indicate that poor health and eligibility for benefits or pensions encourage exit from the labour force for both males and females; whilst continued employment of a spouse is associated with further participation for males. For females, financial security appears to be a relatively important factor, as higher household net wealth is associated with earlier retirement, and the dissolution of marriage with a higher likelihood of participation. 

Health is identified as an important factor in the decision to retire. However, the observed decline in health status explains a relatively small proportion of the aggregate decline in participation of older individuals. Of far greater importance are other factors such as financial incentives. For instance, the results show that receipt of New Zealand Superannuation substantially reduces the likelihood of remaining in the labour force, as do private superannuation income and receipt of government transfers. Overall the paper suggests an optimistic outlook for the labour market contribution of older New Zealanders.

The views, opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in Treasury research working papers are strictly those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Treasury.

Last updated: 
Thursday, 18 June 2015