Retirement and cognitive development in the Netherlands: Are the retired really inactive?

Andries de Grip, Arnaud Dupuy, Jelle Jolles, Martin van Boxtel

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    This paper uses longitudinal data to analyze the relation between retirement and cognitive development in the Netherlands. Controlling for individual fixed effects and lagged cognition, we find that retirees face lower declines in their cognitive flexibility than those who remain employed, which appears to be persistent 6 years after retirement. However, the information processing speed of low-educated retirees declines faster. The magnitude of both changes in cognition is such that retirees appear 5-6 years younger in terms of cognitive flexibility, and older in terms of information processing speed. We show that these relationships between retirement and cognitive development cannot be explained by (1) feeling relieved from routine work, (2) changes in mood, (3) changes in lifestyle, and (4) changes in blood pressure. The decline in information processing speed after retirement particularly holds for the low educated. This could increase the social costs of an aging society.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)157-69
    Number of pages13
    JournalEconomics and Human Biology
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


    • Adult
    • Affect
    • Age Factors
    • Aged
    • Aged, 80 and over
    • Aging
    • Cognition
    • Educational Status
    • Female
    • Humans
    • Learning
    • Life Style
    • Longitudinal Studies
    • Male
    • Memory
    • Mental Processes
    • Middle Aged
    • Netherlands
    • Retirement
    • Sex Factors
    • Journal Article


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