nep-age New Economics Papers
on Economics of Ageing
Issue of 2009‒03‒28
seven papers chosen by
Claudia Villosio
LABORatorio R. Revelli

  1. Retirement and Social Security: A Time Series Approach By Brendan Cushing-Daniels; C. Eugene Steuerle
  2. Will People Be Healthy Enough to Work Longer? By Alicia H. Munnell; Mauricio Soto; Alex Golub-Sass
  3. The Rising Age at Retirement in Industrial Countries By Gary Burtless
  4. How Much Do State Economics and Other Characteristics Affect Retirement Behavior? By Alicia H. Munnell; Mauricio Soto; Robert K. Triest; Natalia A. Zhivan
  5. Elderly Immigrants' Labor Supply Response to Supplemental Security Income By Neeraj Kaushal
  6. Reforming Pensions By Nicholas Barr; Peter Diamond
  7. Sources of Support for Pension Reform: A Cross-National Perspective By Michelle Dion; Andrew Roberts

  1. By: Brendan Cushing-Daniels; C. Eugene Steuerle
    Abstract: Traditional analyses of retirement decisions focus on the age, from birth, of the individual making choices about how much to work, consume, and save for old age. However, remaining life expectancy is arguably a better way of examining these issues. As mortality rates decline, people at a given age now have more remaining years of life expectancy than they did in the past. If participation rates at older ages remain constant (or decline), then average time spent in retirement will increase. Additionally, because health status and mortality are correlated, adults with more expected years of life are generally in better health (and better able to work) than those with fewer years of remaining life.
    Date: 2008–12
  2. By: Alicia H. Munnell; Mauricio Soto; Alex Golub-Sass
    Abstract: If Americans continue to retire at age 63, a great many will risk income shortfalls especially at older ages. Because work directly increases current income, Social Security benefits, retirement saving, and decreases the length of retirement, a logical solution would be to increase the age of retirement. But are Americans healthy enough to work longer? Using the National Health Interview Study, this paper shows that healthy life expectancy increased by about three years over 1970-2000 for the average 50-year old man. This increase is largely the result of men moving up the education ladder, with minimal increases within educational groups. Moreover, major disparities in healthy life expectancy remain between those in the bottom and top quartiles of the population. And these disparities mean that a vulnerable portion of the population – perhaps those who most need to work longer – might not be able to extend their work lives.
    Date: 2008–07
  3. By: Gary Burtless
    Abstract: In the half century after World War II labor force participation in the population past age 60 fell substantially in nearly all rich countries. Declining participation rates became a matter of major concern when it became clear that population growth rates were slowing and the average age of citizens in most rich countries was rising. A rapidly growing number of aged was living longer but spending a smaller number of years in the paid workforce. This paper examines recent trends in retirement behavior in 21 rich countries. It proposes three straightforward measures of labor force exit, and it estimates labor force exit rates using a variety of labor supply indicators, including the labor force participation rate, the employment rate, average work hours in the population, and average weekly earnings in the population. The results suggest that in recent years exit rates from paid work are declining among older citizens. This pattern is found both for men and women, and it is found in a large majority of countries in the analysis. In many countries labor force participation rates at older ages reached a low point in the 1990s, but since that time participation rates have increased. The rebound in male participation rates has been substantial in several countries. On average across the 21 countries, participation rates among 60-64 year-old men have rebounded over 9 percentage points since a low point in the participation rate was reached, usually in the 1990s. This rise in the participation rate of 60-64 year-old men has offset almost one-quarter of the decline in participation rates that occurred between 1960 and the low point of participation rates.
    Date: 2008–01
  4. By: Alicia H. Munnell; Mauricio Soto; Robert K. Triest; Natalia A. Zhivan
    Abstract: Economic conditions and labor force participation vary significantly across the states of the Union. Despite these marked differences, little is known about the reasons for such variations in retirement patterns. Using the Current Population Survey for the period 1977-2007, this paper demonstrates that the differences in the labor force participation of men age 55-64 are related to the labor market conditions, the nature of employment, and the employee characteristics in each state as well as a pseudo replacement rate. These variables explain more than one-third of the total variation. Even moving to a fixed-effects model only cuts the explanatory power by half. The question remains, however, whether these relationships reflect different populations or unique aspects of the state. To answer that question we turn to the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). We estimate equations for the probability of working and for the expected retirement for men in their late fifties and early sixties. In each case, the first equation includes just the state-level variables and the second the state-level variables and the HRS demographic and economic information for each individual. The results show that the state-level variables explain almost none of the variation in the probability of working or the expected retirement age, but most of the state-level variables are statistically significant both before and after the inclusion of the HRS information.
    Date: 2008–08
  5. By: Neeraj Kaushal
    Abstract: This paper examines the effect of changes in immigrant eligibility for Supplemental Security Income in 1996 on the employment and retirement behaviors of foreign-born elderly persons. I find that denial of SSI was associated with a 5 percentage point (15 percent) increase in the employment of non-citizen elderly men and a 5.6 percentage point (11 percent) decrease in their retirement rate. The estimated effects were higher for recent arrivals, a group most likely to be affected by the policy change. Further, while recent arrivals were more likely to increase part-time work, the earlier arrivals responded to the policy by increasing full-time employment. I find no consistent evidence that denial of SSI affected the employment of elderly immigrant women, but some evidence that it raised their retirement rate, specifically among those who immigrated in recent years.
    Date: 2008–12
  6. By: Nicholas Barr; Peter Diamond
    Abstract: This article, based on two books (Barr and Diamond 2008, forthcoming), sets out a series of principles for pension design rooted in economic theory: pension systems have multiple objectives, analysis should consider the pension system as a whole, analysis should be framed in a second-best context, different systems share risks differently, and systems have different effects by generation and by gender. That discussion is reinforced by identification of a series of widespread analytical errors: tunnel vision, improper use of first-best analysis, improper use of steady-state analysis, incomplete analysis of implicit pension debt, incomplete analysis of the impact of funding (including excessive focus on financial flows, failure to consider how funding is generated, and improper focus on the type of asset in trust funds), and ignoring distributional effects.
    Date: 2008–12
  7. By: Michelle Dion; Andrew Roberts
    Abstract: Many accounts of pension politics assign primary importance to societal forces. In the well-known formulation, pensions are the “third rail” of politics: politicians cannot cut benefits without suffering electoral retribution. In addition, some see the preferences of business as a key determinant of pension policy. This study takes aim at this problem by exploring what factors lead citizens and firms to support public pension systems and various reform efforts. To answer these questions, we analyze a survey of individuals and firms in 20 countries from five continents regarding attitudes toward pensions conducted by the Oxford Institute of Aging and the HSBC Bank. We examine separately variation in individual and then firm preferences regarding the role of government in pension provision and pension reform options. Then, we compare the preferences of firms to those of individuals to identify the potential space available for policy reform. The main results from the analyses are three. First, there are large cross-national differences in preferences of both individuals and firms. Second, these cross-national differences are not well explained by conventional theories. Third, there is some but not overwhelming support for micro-level theories about the reasons for differences between firms and individuals.
    Date: 2008–12

This nep-age issue is ©2009 by Claudia Villosio. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.