A study has revealed that better employee productivity would occur if people over 40 years old were able to work three days (25 hours) a week. According to the paper which is in the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, doing more than three days a week once you reach 40 years old can damage your ability to think.
The research was conducted using the data of more than 3,000 men and 3,500 women (aged over 40) who completed the national Household Income Labour Dynamics in Australia survey. The research took people’s economic and subjective well-being, family structures and employment into account. The participants were asked to read words aloud, match letters and numbers under pressure and to recite lists of numbers backwards. The results indicated that participants who worked 25 hours a week tended to achieve the highest scores.
Colin Mckenzie is a Professor of Economics at Keio University. He took part in the research and said that working long hours was more damaging to brain function than not working at all. Given the fact that the retirement age has gone up in many countries, Mckenzie suggests that these new findings should be taken into consideration. He stated that “many countries are going to raise their retirement ages by delaying the age at which people are eligible to start receiving pension benefits. This means that more people continue to work in the later stages of their life. He added, “the degree of intellectual stimulation may depend on working hours. Work can be a double-edged sword, in that it can stimulate brain activity, but at the same time long working hours can cause fatigue and stress, which potentially damage cognitive functions.”
Critics of the research include Geraint Johnes, Professor of Economics at Lancaster University Management School. He said: “The research looks only at over-40s, and so cannot make the claim that over-40s are different from any other workers.
It is also important to note that results may vary between countries, depending on how much holiday people can take each year. Therefore, it is hard to control for factors such as the type of work and hours worked (which could bias a study such as this).
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