The agriculture industry spends a lot of time wringing its collective hands over the average age of farmers, which has steadily increased over the years. Twenty years ago, the average principal farm operator was 50 years old. According to the most recent statistics, he or she is now 57 years old.
It’s a serious matter, to be sure. But let’s not be total pessimists –- there is a nice silver lining to our aging farmer population.
"It looks like retirement may be bad for your health," quips Freakonomics co-author Stephen Dubner, who points to a recent study conducted by the University of Zurich. According to the study, every year of early retirement will cost you about two months of life expectancy.
Dubner says working is tied to better physical and mental health, and calls on Florida psychologist Mo Wang for further explanation.
"Working actually gives you a way to structure your life, and that is very important," Wang says. "Usually people travel right after they retire, but after one or two years, they just sit at home and watch TV."
Farming certainly seems to boost longevity. In a recent AgWeb.com poll, 59 percent of respondents said they have farmed for more than 30 years.