Secrets behind longevity of farmers

Working hard and living their lives to the fullest

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Farmers are said to have longer life expectancies in comparison to the general public. This is thought to be true internationally, and studies to statistically confirm mortality rates and disease attack rates in accordance with occupation are being carried out around the world. Many of these research results show that there is significant difference in mortality rate among management level and blue collar workers under 60 years old, but for farmers, the difference varies. Furthermore, there is the chicken-or-the-egg question; do farmers live longer because they farm, or do they farm because they live longer? Investigation on this causal relationship has not been done yet.

Previously, Professor Emeritus Kenji Horiguchi and Professor Masahiko Genma of Waseda University found that medical expenses of self-employed farmers were 30% less in comparison to everyone else. To tell the precise differences between the two groups, the professors conducted a survey in Saitama Prefecture between February and March of 2017.

This study concluded that self-employed farmers have noticeably long lifespans because of their career as healthy farmers. Moreover, there is not much difference between their age at death and life expectancy, demonstrating that retirement age of self-employed farmers is nearly equivalent to their life expectancy.

In the future, this data will be used to understand the common factors and habits among healthy people. Additionally, the researchers will further investigate with medical experts and researchers from Waseda’s Faculty of Sport Sciences to reveal what is linked to extending life expectancy of self-employed farmers and how their lifestyles keep them healthy by conducting more surveys and observation. This research may help address issues related to aging, such as the increasing medical expenses and insurance cost of the elderly.

The researchers made the following discoveries:

1. Self-employed farmers have longer lifespans, and this gap is especially noticeable among men

  • Men: The average life expectancy for self-employed farmers was 81.5 years old and 73.3 years old for others
  • Women: The average life expectancy for self-employed farmers was 84.1 years old and 82.5 years old for others

2. In terms of the number of years worked, self-employed farmers worked longer, which most likely helped extend their life expectancy

  • Men: The number of years worked for self-employed farmers was 50.8 years and 37.5 years for others
  • Women: The number of years worked for self-employed farmers was 49.1 years and 28 years for others

3. The retirement age of self-employed farmers, which was in their early 70s for most, were much later in comparison to other

  • Men: The retirement age of self-employed farmers was 74.2 years old and 64.3 years old for others
  • Women: The retirement age of self-employed farmers was 72.8 years old and 60.8 years old for others

4. Self-employed farmers lived shortly after retirement in comparison to others

  • Men: Self-employed farmers lived 7.4 years after retirement, which was 9.6 years for others
  • Women: Self-employed farmers lived 11 years after retirement, which was 19.3 years for others
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