fications (Moen et al., 1992). Compared to men, women have more intimate relationships and receive more support from these relationships (Turner and Marino, 1994; Umberson et al., 1996). Social support provides an important buffer against the negative health effects of stress (Cohen, 1988).


The issue of the health of older workers has to be set in a socioeconomic context. Both the nature of work and the wider implications of work will be important for the health of older workers. The balance of gains and losses associated with work versus retirement will be influenced by wider social and economic forces. The number of lifetime hours in paid employment has been diminishing as the number of discretionary hours has been increasing; monetary income from paid work probably represents a minority of total benefits; and the egalitarian challenge for the future is equalization of spiritual resources (Fogel, 2000). These resources include self-fulfillment, family ties, social cohesion, and control over life circumstances. It is important to put work in this context. For some older people, work will be a source of these spiritual and psychosocial opportunities. For others the reverse will be the case. The health of older workers will be influenced by where the balance lies.

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