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Involuntary Retirement and the Resolution of the Retirement-Consumption Puzzle: Evidence from Australia

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  • Garry F. Barrett
  • Matthew Brzozowski

Abstract

A substantial body of international research has shown that household expenditure on food and non-durables significantly decreases at the time of retirement -- a finding that is inconsistent with the standard life-cycle model of consumption if retirement is an anticipated event. This fall in expenditure has become known as the `retirement- consumption puzzle.' We analyze rich Australian panel data to assess the Australian evidence on the puzzle. We find strong evidence of a fall in expenditures on groceries, food consumed at home and outside meals with retirement. The observed decline in expenditure is explained by a subset of households experiencing an unanticipated wealth shock, such as a major health event or long-term job loss, at the time of retirement. This finding is corroborated by an analysis of alternative measures of household well-being, including indicators of financial hardship, and self-reported financial and life satisfaction. For the majority of households retirement is anticipated and there is no decline in economic welfare at retirement. However, for an important minority, retirement is `involuntary' and these households experience a marked decline across all indicators of economic well-being.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by McMaster University in its series Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers with number 275.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mcm:sedapp:275

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Keywords: Consumption Smoothing; Household Expenditure; Retirement;

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References

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  1. B. Douglas Bernheim & Jonathan Skinner & Steven Weinberg, 2001. "What Accounts for the Variation in Retirement Wealth among U.S. Households?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 832-857, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Garry F. Barrett & Milica Kecmanovic, 2012. "Changes in Subjective Well-being with Retirement: Assessing Savings Adequacy in Australia," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 296, McMaster University.

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