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Discouraged Workers? Job Search Outcomes of Older Workers

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  • Nicole Maestas

    (RAND)

  • Xiaoyan Li

    (RAND)

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    Abstract

    Many have suggested we adopt policies that explicitly encourage the elderly to work. Behind this suggestion is the assumption that if an older person desires a job, one will be found; however, little is known about the extent to which this is true, and in the Health and Retirement Study, many more respondents say they expect to work after retirement than actually undertake work. This raises an important question: To what extent can the elderly readily find suitable jobs? In the context of a theoretical job search model, we examine the decision to search for a job and the probability of transitioning to employment using a large sample of non-workers from the Health and Retirement Study. The effects of both supply-side factors (individual characteristics) and demand-side factors (local labor market conditions) are estimated. We find employment transition rates are relatively low for older searchers: only half of older searchers successfully attain jobs. We examine various explanations for this result, including variation in search intensity, reservation wages, and the possibility of intervening health shocks. We conclude that about 13% of older job searchers becomes a discouraged worker in the sense of being willing to work at the prevailing wage, but unable to find a job.

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    File URL: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/Papers/pdf/wp133.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp133.

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    Length: 48 pages
    Date of creation: Oct 2006
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp133

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    References

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    1. Stefano DellaVigna & M. Daniele Paserman, 2005. "Job Search and Impatience," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(3), pages 527-588, July.
    2. Kimball, Miles S, 1993. "Standard Risk Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(3), pages 589-611, May.
    3. Adriana D. Kugler & Robert M. Sauer, 2005. "Doctors without Borders? Relicensing Requirements and Negative Selection in the Market for Physicians," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(3), pages 437-466, July.
    4. Lippman, Steven A & McCall, John J, 1976. "The Economics of Job Search: A Survey," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 14(3), pages 347-68, September.
    5. Joanna Lahey, 2006. "Age, Women, and Hiring: An Experimental Study," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2006-23, Center for Retirement Research, revised Nov 2006.
    6. Chan, Sewin & Stevens, Ann Huff, 2001. "Job Loss and Employment Patterns of Older Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 484-521, April.
    7. Vishwanath, Tara, 1989. "Job Search, Stigma Effect, and Escape Rate from Unemployment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(4), pages 487-502, October.
    8. Madhu Mohanty, 2005. "An alternative method of estimating the worker's reservation wage," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(4), pages 501-522.
    9. Nicole Maestas, 2004. "Back to Work: Expectations and Realizations of Work After Retirement," Working Papers wp085, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    10. Blau, David M, 1991. "Search for Nonwage Job Characteristics: A Test of the Reservation Wage Hypothesis," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(2), pages 186-205, April.
    11. Lippman, Steven A & McCall, John J, 1976. "The Economics of Job Search: A Survey: Part I," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 14(2), pages 155-89, June.
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    Cited by:
    1. Nicole Maestas & Xiaoyan Li, 2007. "Burnout and the Retirement Decision," Working Papers wp166, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    2. Peter Z. Schochet & Ronald D'Amico & Jillian Berk & Sarah Dolfin & Nathan Wozny, 2012. "Estimated Impacts for Participants in the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program Under the 2002 Amendments," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 7736, Mathematica Policy Research.
    3. Nicole Maestas & Na Yin, 2008. "The Labor Supply Effects of Disability Insurance Work Disincentives: Evidence from the Automatic Conversion to Retirement Benefits at Full Retirement Age," Working Papers wp194, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.

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