Pushed to the end: Poor health forces bush workers out

ILL health pushes more people in country areas out of the workforce and into retirement than in the city, a new study has revealed.

The University of Sydney research found 5 per cent of fully-retired, working-aged men living in the city were doing so for health reasons.

That climbs to 8 per cent for those in inner regional areas (larger towns such as Tamworth and Armidale), and 9 per cent for those in outer regional areas.

For women, health accounted for 4 per cent of fully-retired city residents who were working-aged, compared to 5 per cent in inner regional areas and 6 per cent in outer regional areas.

Stroke was found to be the biggest cause of health-related retirement, followed by “other” cancers (those excluding melanoma, skin and breast cancer).

Osteoarthritis, depression, osteoporosis, depression and anxiety were also significant causes among both men and women.

According to the Australian Health and Welfare Institute, health outcomes tend to be poorer outside cities, possibly related to access to services, risk factors (such as smoking and alcohol consumption) and the rural/regional environment (including more physically hazardous occupations and driving factors).

Local man Brian Chesterfield left the workforce at the age of 59 and said health issues were a factor in the retirement of himself and his partner, Jill Evans, but a strong superannuation position and a desire to travel were the bigger driving forces.

Lawler Warburtons financial adviser Greig Meyer estimated about 5 per cent of the retirees he saw were spurred on to leave the workforce by health issues.

He said these issues were unlikely to make them retire any more than about five years before they would have, unless in exceptional circumstances.

But Mr Meyer, who had worked in Sydney, said contrary to the study, he believed the city lifestyle was more conducive to people burning out at a younger age than those living in the country.

Lead study author Dr Sabrina Pit said the findings could be used to reduce early retirement due to health problems, and subsequently minimise government spending on pensions and disability payments.

A study reported in the Medical Journal of Australia in 2008 said there were an estimated 663,235 older Australians not working because of ill health, reducing the country’s GDP by about $14.7 billion each year.

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