Concepts of successful ageing and active ageing both emphasize independence and participation in productive activities as being good for elderly people's health. A six-year study of 4,049 older people in Taiwan looked at their levels of participation in paid and unpaid work and compared them with levels of mortality over the course of the study. The researchers found that those people who had continuous paid work were also more likely to participate in social groups. Having paid or unpaid work at the start of the study lowered the risk of mortality six years later, especially for men. However, having unpaid work was associated with a higher risk of impaired cognitive function compared to that of non-workers. Participating in a religious group reduced the risk of mortality for women and participating in political groups reduced the risk of impaired cognitive function for men.
Hsu, H. C. - Does social participation by the elderly reduce mortality and cognitive impairment Ageing and Mental Health November 2007, 11(6), 699-707