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Scienze Psicologiche, Pedagogiche, dell’Esercizio Fisico e della Formazione

Volunteering during early retirement years reduces depression - Angelo Lorenti



In 2020, the United States reported 21.0 million adults, 8.4% of the adult population, experiencing at least one major depressive episode, with a higher prevalence among women (10.5%) than men (6.2%). Depression, a complex and heterogeneous health condition resulting primarily in mood disorder, becomes more common as people age, when declining health and significant life changes, such as retirement, occur. Retirement changes individuals’ social and economic roles, impacting mental well-being. The literature presents mixed findings on the effects of retirement on health, suggesting both potential identity crises due to role loss and increased opportunities for social engagement and physical activity. Nevertheless, Western countries have responded to the aging population challenge by raising the retirement age, potentially overlooking the benefits of volunteering. Volunteering not only contributes to societal welfare but also supports mental health by offering purpose and continuity to older adults. In this study, we explore the relationship between retirement, volunteering, and depression, and assess whether replacing employment with volunteering during early retirement years can reduce depression. We aim to shed light on the nuanced dynamics of this relationship, considering gender differences in the influence of social participation. Our findings suggest that volunteering serves as a beneficial strategy to reduce depression among retirees, highlighting the importance of considering alternative engagements beyond extending the working age for maintaining mental health in older populations.

Angelo Lorenti is a demographer and statistician based as Research Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (Rostock, Germany), where he is a member of the Research Group: Labor Demography and the MaxHel Center.

His research interests focus mainly on Health in connection with ageing, education and retirement. A full profile is available here:

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