Health and Labor Force Participation of Older Men, 1900–1991
I investigate how the relationship between health status and retirement among older men has changed since 1900 using weight adjusted for height or Body Mass Index (BMI) as a proxy for health. I find that both in 1900 and in 1985-1991 the relative risk of labor force non-participation increases for the excessively lean and obese and that the BMI level that minimizes the relative risk of labor force non-participation remains unchanged. However, in 1900 both the relative risk of non-participation among men at low and high BMI levels and the elasticity of non-participation with respect to BMI were greater than today, suggesting that health is now less important to the retirement decision than in the past. The difference in the relative risk of non-participation is especially pronounced at high BMI levels. Declining physical job demands and improved control of chronic conditions may explain the difference. The findings suggest that the impact of improvements in health on participation rates is increasingly more likely to be outweighed by the impact of other factors. Greater efforts made to increase the incorporation of the old and disabled into the labor force may therefore have a minimal impact on retirement rates. The findings also imply that in the past the economic costs of poor health were substantial.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)
Volume (Year): 56 (1996)
Issue (Month): 01 (March)
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References listed on IDEAS
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- James J. Heckman, 1976. "The Common Structure of Statistical Models of Truncation, Sample Selection and Limited Dependent Variables and a Simple Estimator for Such Models," NBER Chapters,in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 5, number 4, pages 475-492 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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- Bartel, Ann & Taubman, Paul, 1979. "Health and Labor Market Success: The Role of Various Diseases," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 61(1), pages 1-8, February.
- Margo Robert A., 1993.
"The Labor Force Participation of Older Americans in 1900: Further Results,"
Explorations in Economic History,
Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 409-423, October.
- Robert A. Margo, 1991. "The Labor Force Participation of Older Americans in 1900: Further Results," NBER Historical Working Papers 0027, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Costa Dora L., 1993. "Height, Weight, Wartime Stress, and Older Age Mortality: Evidence from the Union Army Records," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 424-449, October. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
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