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Income trajectories in later life: Longitudinal evidence from the Health and Retirement Study


  • Mitchell, Olivia S.
  • Clark, Robert L.
  • Lusardi, Annamaria


We track low-income respondents in the longitudinal Health and Retirement Study for 23 years, to observe how their financial situations unfolded as they aged. We document that (a) real incomes remained relatively stable as individuals entered retirement and progressed through their later years; and (b) labor force participation declined and thus earnings became less important with age, while Social Security and retirement savings rose as a proportion of annual income. Low-income people near retirement also tended to fare poorly during retirement.

Suggested Citation

  • Mitchell, Olivia S. & Clark, Robert L. & Lusardi, Annamaria, 2022. "Income trajectories in later life: Longitudinal evidence from the Health and Retirement Study," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 22(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joecag:v:22:y:2022:i:c:s2212828x22000044
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jeoa.2022.100371

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell & Noemi Oggero, 2018. "The Changing Face of Debt and Financial Fragility at Older Ages," AEA Papers and Proceedings, American Economic Association, vol. 108, pages 407-411, May.
    2. John Fitzgerald & Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1998. "An Analysis of Sample Attrition in Panel Data: The Michigan Panel Study of Income Dynamics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(2), pages 251-299.
    3. Bound, John & Brown, Charles & Mathiowetz, Nancy, 2001. "Measurement error in survey data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 59, pages 3705-3843, Elsevier.
    4. Anqi Chen & Alicia H. Munnell & Geoffrey T. Sanzenbacher, 2018. "How Much Income Do Retirees Actually Have? Evaluating the Evidence from Five National Datasets," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2018-14, Center for Retirement Research.
    5. Anqi Chen & Alicia H. Munnell & Geoffrey T. Sanzenbacher, 2018. "How Much Income Do Retirees Actually Have?," Issues in Brief ib2018-20, Center for Retirement Research.
    6. Congressional Budget Office, 2019. "Employment of People Ages 55 to 79," Reports 55454, Congressional Budget Office.
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    More about this item


    Financial literacy; Financial resilience; Aging; Vulnerable groups;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G53 - Financial Economics - - Household Finance - - - Financial Literacy
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs


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