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Framing Social Security Reform: Behavioral Responses to Changes in the Full Retirement Age

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  • Luc Behaghel
  • David M. Blau

Abstract

We use a US Social Security reform as a quasi-experiment to provide evidence on framing effects in retirement behavior. The reform increased the full retirement age (FRA) from 65 to 66 in two-month increments per year of birth. We find strong evidence that the spike in the benefit claiming hazard at 65 moved in lockstep along with the FRA. Results on self-reported retirement and exit from employment go in the same direction. The responsiveness to the new FRA is stronger for people with higher cognitive skills. We interpret the findings as evidence of reference dependence with loss aversion. (JEL D91, H55, J14, J26)

Suggested Citation

  • Luc Behaghel & David M. Blau, 2012. "Framing Social Security Reform: Behavioral Responses to Changes in the Full Retirement Age," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 41-67, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:4:y:2012:i:4:p:41-67
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.4.4.41
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

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