The Melbourne Institute Worker Paper series published the report of a study which showed that people older than 40 performed best when they worked only three days per week. This Australian study aimed at analyzing the cognitive abilities of older workers, and examined 3,500 women and 3,000 men.
The team of researchers analyzed their memory, abstract and executive reasoning, and measured their cognitive performance in order to see their effectiveness at the workplace.
They found that it improved when working 25 hours, and reduced when working 55 hours per week. These results were found to be caused by stress and fatigue.
Moreover, according to one of the lead authors of the study, professor Colin McKenzie, the working hours affect the level of intellectual stimulation, and can drastically influence the cognitive functions.
The study showed that working for more than 30 hours per week negatively affects the healthy function of the brain in middle-aged men.
Professor Colin McKenzie told The Times:
“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. But the degree of intellectual stimulation may depend on working hours. “
“We point out that differences in working hours are important for maintaining cognitive functioning in middle-aged and elderly adults. This means that, in middle and older age, working part-time could be effective in maintaining cognitive ability.”
Geraint Johnes, professor of economics at Lancaster University Management School, explains:
“What the authors find is that cognitive functioning improves up to the point at which workers work 25 hours a week and declines thereafter. 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.”
Yet, the reason for such findings is still unclear. Prof. McKenzie says:
“While work can stimulate brain activity, long working hours can cause fatigue and stress, which potentially damage cognitive functions. Full-time work (40 hours a week) is still better than no work in terms of maintaining cognitive functioning, but it is not maximizing the positive effects of work.”
However, no one can consider all the contributing factors, but what has been confirmed is that working full time after the 40 is neither beneficial nor productive. The research comes amid moves to edge the state pension age closer to 70, so its findings are apparently conflicting the belief of the Government.