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The Effect of Subjective Survival Probabilities on Retirement and Wealth in the United States

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  • David E. Bloom
  • David Canning
  • Michael Moore
  • Younghwan Song

Abstract

We explore the proposition that expected longevity affects retirement decisions and accumulated wealth using micro data drawn from the Health and Retirement Study for the United States. We use data on a person's subjective probability of survival to age 75 as a proxy for their prospective lifespan. In order to control for the presence of measurement error and focal points in responses, as well as reverse causality, we instrument subjective survival probabilities using information on current age, or age at death, of the respondent's parents. Our estimates indicate that increased subjective probabilities of survival result in increased household wealth among couples, with no effect on the length of the working life. These findings are consistent with the view that retirement decisions are driven by institutional constraints and incentives and that a longer expected lifespan leads to increased wealth accumulation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12688.

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Date of creation: Nov 2006
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Publication status: published as Clark, Robert, Naohiro Ogawa, and Andrew Mason (eds.) "Population Aging, Intergenerational Transfers and the Macroeconomy." Cheltenham, U.K. and Northampton, MA: Elgar, 2007.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12688

Note: AG HC HE LS PE
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  1. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1982. "Expectations, Life Expectancy, and Economic Behavior," NBER Working Papers 0835, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. David Bloom & David Canning & Rick Mansfield & Michael Moore, 2006. "Demographic Change, Social Security Systems, and Savings," PGDA Working Papers 1906, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
  3. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Michael Moore & Younghwan Song, 2006. "The Effect of Subjective Survival Probabilities on Retirement and Wealth in the United States," NBER Working Papers 12688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Angus Deaton & Christina H. Paxson, 1993. "Saving, Growth, and Aging in Taiwan," NBER Working Papers 4330, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Michael Moore, 2005. "The Effect of Improvements in Health and Longevity on Optimal Retirement and Saving," PGDA Working Papers 0205, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
  6. James H. Stock & Motohiro Yogo, 2002. "Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & David Weil, 2010. "Mortality change, the uncertainty effect, and retirement," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 65-91, March.
  8. Michael D. Hurd & James P. Smith & Julie M. Zissimopoulos, 2002. "The Effects of Subjective Survival on Retirement and Social Security Claiming," Working Papers wp021, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  9. Courtney Coile & Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Social Security and Retirement," NBER Working Papers 7830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2000. "Retirement Outcomes in the Health and Retirement Study," NBER Working Papers 7588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Michael D. Hurd & Kathleen McGarry, 1997. "The Predictive Validity of Subjective Probabilities of Survival," NBER Working Papers 6193, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Gruber, Jonathan & Wise, David, 1998. "Social Security and Retirement: An International Comparison," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 158-63, May.
  13. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Bryan Graham, 2002. "Longevity and Life Cycle Savings," NBER Working Papers 8808, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Mariano Kulish & Kathryn Smith & Christopher Kent, 2006. "Ageing, Retirement and Savings: A General Equilibrium Analysis," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2006-06, Reserve Bank of Australia.
  15. Ronald D Lee & Andrew Mason & Tim Miller, 1998. "Saving, Wealth, and Population," Working Papers 199805, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
  16. Nan Li & Ronald Lee, 2005. "Coherent mortality forecasts for a group of populations: An extension of the lee-carter method," Demography, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 575-594, August.
  17. Boucekkine, Raouf & de la Croix, David & Licandro, Omar, 2002. "Vintage Human Capital, Demographic Trends, and Endogenous Growth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(2), pages 340-375, June.
  18. William F. Bassett & Robin L. Lumsdaine, 2001. "Probability Limits: Are Subjective Assessments Adequately Accurate?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(2), pages 327-363.
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Cited by:
  1. Hanming Fang & Michael Keane & Ahmed Khwaja & Martin Salm & Dan Silverman, 2007. "Testing the Mechanisms of Structural Models: The Case of the Mickey Mantle Effect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 53-59, May.
  2. Thomas Post & Katja Hanewald, 2011. "Longevity Risk, Subjective Survival Expectations, and Individual Saving Behavior," Working Papers 201111, ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR), Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales.
  3. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Michael Moore & Younghwan Song, 2006. "The Effect of Subjective Survival Probabilities on Retirement and Wealth in the United States," PGDA Working Papers 1706, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
  4. Groneck, Max & Ludwig, Alexander & Zimper, Alexander, 2013. "A Life-Cycle Model with Ambiguous Survival Beliefs," MEA discussion paper series 13270, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  5. Owen O'Donnell & Federica Teppa & Eddy van Doorslaer, 2008. "Can subjective survival expectations explain retirement behaviour?," DNB Working Papers 188, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  6. Bloom, David & Canning, David, 2006. "Global Demography: Fact, Force and Future," MPRA Paper 2577, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Todd Elder, 2007. "Subjective Survival Probabilities in the Health and Retirement Study: Systematic Biases and Predictive Validity," Working Papers wp159, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  8. Bloom, David E. & Sousa-Poza, Alfonso, 2010. "Economic consequences of low fertility in Europe," FZID Discussion Papers 11-2010, University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID).
  9. Adeline Delavande & Susann Rohwedder, 2008. "Differential Mortality in Europe and the U.S.: Estimates Based on Subjective Probabilities of Survival," Working Papers 613, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  10. Alexander Zimper & Alexander Ludwig & Max Groneck, 2012. "A Life-Cycle Consumption Model with Ambiguous Survival Beliefs," 2012 Meeting Papers 693, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  11. Thomas Post & Katja Hanewald, 2010. "Stochastic Mortality, Subjective Survival Expectations, and Individual Saving Behavior," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2010-040, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.

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