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The Role of Health in Retirement

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  • Alan L. Gustman
  • Thomas L. Steinmeier

Abstract

This paper constructs and estimates a dynamic model of the evolution of health for those over the age of 50 and then embeds that model of health dynamics in a structural, econometric model of retirement and saving. The health model traces the effects of smoking, obesity, alcohol consumption, depression and other proclivities on medical conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, cancer, lung disease, heart problems, stroke, psychiatric problems and arthritis. These in turn influence an overall index of health status based on self-reported health, work limitations and ADLs, which is used to classify the population into good, fair, poor or terrible health. Compared to a situation where the entire population is in good health, the current health status of the population reduces the retirement age of the entire population by an average of about one year. While poor health or terrible health have a great impact on the disutility of work and thus on retirement, fair health as opposed to good health has a relatively minor effect. Smoking depresses full-time work effort by up to 3.5 percentage points by those in the early sixties, reducing the average retirement age by four to five months. Effects of trends in health care and health policies on retirement are also analyzed. Including detailed measurement of health dynamics in a retirement model improves understanding of the effects of health on retirement. It does not, however, influence estimates of the marginal effects of economic incentives on retirement.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19902.

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Date of creation: Feb 2014
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19902

Note: AG HE LS PE
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  1. van der Klaauw, Wilbert & Wolpin, Kenneth I., 2008. "Social security and the retirement and savings behavior of low-income households," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 145(1-2), pages 21-42, July.
  2. John Bailey Jones & Eric French, 2010. "The Effects of Health Insurance and Self-Insurance on Retirement Behavior," Discussion Papers, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics 10-10, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  3. James Marton & Stephen A. Woodbury, 2006. "Retiree Health Benefits and Retirement," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research 06-128, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  4. Glenn R. Hubbard & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research 3-95, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  5. Arie Kapteyn & Erik Meijer, 2013. "A Comparison of Different Measures of Health and their Relation to Labor Force Transitions at Older Ages," NBER Chapters, in: Discoveries in the Economics of Aging, pages 115-150 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 2013. "Health, Education, and the Post-Retirement Evolution of Household Assets," NBER Working Papers 18695, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-55, March-Apr.
  8. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2013. "Effects of Social Security Policies on Benefit Claiming, Retirement and Saving," NBER Working Papers 19071, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. James P. Smith, 1999. "Healthy Bodies and Thick Wallets: The Dual Relation between Health and Economic Status," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 145-166, Spring.
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