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Three Models of Retirement: Computational Complexity Versus Predictive Validity

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  • Robin L. Lumsdaine
  • James H. Stock
  • David A. Wise

Abstract

Empirical analysis often raises questions of approximation to underlying individual behavior. Closer approximation may require more complex statistical specifications, On the other hand, more complex specifications may presume computational facility that is beyond the grasp of most real people and therefore less consistent with the actual rules that govern their behavior, even though economic theory may push analysts to increasingly more complex specifications. Thus the issue is not only whether more complex models are worth the effort, but also whether they are better. We compare the in-sample and out-of-sample predictive performance of three models of retirement -- "option value," dynamic programming, and probit -- to determine which of the retirement rules most closely matches retirement behavior in a large firm. The primary measure of predictive validity is the correspondence between the model predictions and actual retirement under the firm's temporary early retirement window plan. The "option value" and dynamic programming models are considerably more successful than the less complex probit model in approximating the rules individuals use to make retirement decisions, but the more complex dynamic programming rule approximates behavior no better than the simpler option value rule.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3558.

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Date of creation: Dec 1990
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Publication status: published as David A. Wise, editor. Topics in the Economics of Aging. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, pp. 21-60, April 1992.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3558

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  1. Burtless, Gary, 1986. "Social Security, Unanticipated Benefit Increases, and the Timing of Retirement," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(5), pages 781-805, October.
  2. Gustman, Alan L & Steinmeier, Thomas L, 1986. "A Structural Retirement Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 555-84, May.
  3. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & David A. Wise, 1987. "The Incentive Effects of Private Pension Plans," NBER Working Papers 1510, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven & David A. Wise, 1987. "Issues in Pension Economics," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bodi87-1.
  5. Berkovec, James & Stern, Steven, 1991. "Job Exit Behavior of Older Men," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(1), pages 189-210, January.
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