In many countries, the earliest age one can retire is in their 60’s. But according to a new study, people should be limiting their workload approximately two decades earlier. This is because, research has shown that people aged over 40 perform the best when they work only three days a week.
Data for the study was pulled from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia. The survey is conducted by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economics and Social Research at the University of Melbourne. Researchers took into consideration people’s family structures, employment, and economic and subjective well-being.
As the BBC reports, those who took part were quizzed in various ways, such as reciting lists of numbers backwards and matching letters and numbers under time pressure. The researchers concluded that participants who worked less than 25 hours a week tended to achieve the best scores.
“Work can be a double-edged sword, in that it can stimulate brain activity, but at the same time, long working hours and certain types of tasks can cause fatigue and stress which potentially damage cognitive functions,” said the report.
According to Colin McKenzie, professor of economics at Keio University, working extremely long hours is more damaging than not working at all on brain function. In fact, the findings suggest that the cognitive abilities of those who work about 60 hours each week maybe be lower than those who are not employed. However, it is pertinent to note that the research only looks at over-40’s. As a result, the authors cannot claim that over-40’s are different than other workers.
“What the authors find is that cognitive functioning improves up to the point at which workers work 25 hours a week and declines thereafter,” said Geraint Johnes, professor of economics at Lancaster University Management School. “Actually, at first the decline is very marginal, and there is not much of an effect as working hours rise to 35 hours per week. Beyond 40 hours per week, the decline is much more rapid.”
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