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Myth of the Industrial Scrap Heap: A Revisionist View of Turn-of-the- Century American Retirement

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  • Susan B. Carter
  • Richard Sutch
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    Abstract

    Using the census survival method to calculate net flows across employment states between 1900 and 1910, we find that approximately one-fifth of all men who reached the age of 55 eventually retired before their death. Many of these retirees appear to have planned their withdrawal from paid employment by accumulating assets, becoming self-employed, and then liquidating their assets to provide a stream of income to finance consumption in old age. This `modern' retirement behavior, we argue, has important implications for the economic history of capital and labor markets, of saving and investment, of insurance and pensions, and of the family economy.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Historical Working Papers with number 0073.

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    Date of creation: Oct 1995
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    Publication status: published as Carter, Susan B. and Richard Sutch. "Myth Of The Industrial Scrap Heap: A Revisionist View Of Turn-Of-The-Century American Retirement," Journal of Economic History, 1996, v56(1,Mar), 5-38.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0073

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    1. Alter, George & Rotella, Elyce & Goldin, Claudia, 1994. "The Savings of Ordinary Americans: The Philadelphia Saving Fund Society in the Mid-Nineteenth Century," Scholarly Articles 2643655, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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    8. Dora L. Costa, 1994. "Agricultural Decline and the Secular Rise in Male Retirement Rates," NBER Historical Working Papers 0055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Romer, Christina, 1986. "Spurious Volatility in Historical Unemployment Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(1), pages 1-37, February.
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    11. Moen, Jon, 1987. "The Labor of Older Men: A Comment," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(03), pages 761-767, September.
    12. Hurd, Michael D, 1990. "Research on the Elderly: Economic Status, Retirement, and Consumption and Saving," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(2), pages 565-637, June.
    13. Franco Modigliani, 2005. "The Collected Papers of Franco Modigliani, Volume 6," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 6, number 0262134543, December.
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