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The impact of inheritances on the retirement behavior of older Europeans

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  • Andreas Eder

    (Vienna University of Economics and Business)

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to study how wealth affects retirement behavior. I use data from the 2004–2012 Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, covering 10 European countries. Inheritances are used as an exogenous change in wealth to estimate the causal effect of wealth/inheritance receipt on retirement. I apply binary choice models for a sample of persons working in 2004/05 to estimate the effect of inheritance receipt during 2005–2011 on the probability of retirement in 2011/12. By comparing data on expected retirement age at the beginning of the sample period with actual retirement age I am able to control for unobserved factors that might be correlated with wealth and affect retirement decisions. The main findings are: (1) Inheritance receipt is quite common for individuals nearing retirement age (50+). About 20 % of the sample aged 50 and older in 2011/12 live in households that received at least one inheritance between 2005 and 2011. (2) Inheritance receipt significantly increases the probability of retirement and the effect increases with the size of the inheritance. (3) In contrast to what life-cycle theory suggests I do not find any evidence that expected and unexpected inheritances affect adjustments of planned retirement age differently. These results are important for assessing the effect of policies that induce changes in wealth, such as pension reforms, tax reforms or reforms of Social Security, on retirement behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Eder, 2016. "The impact of inheritances on the retirement behavior of older Europeans," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 43(2), pages 299-331, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:empiri:v:43:y:2016:i:2:d:10.1007_s10663-016-9331-9
    DOI: 10.1007/s10663-016-9331-9
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bequests; Retirement; Wealth; Labor supply; Expectations;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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