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Economic Determinants of the Optimal Retirement Age: An Empirical Investigation

  • Gary S. Fields
  • Olivia S. Mitchell

In this paper we examine how the structures of earnings, Social Security, and pension benefits affect retirement behavior. We use an intertemporal model of labor supply, paying special attention to the institutional features of private pensions and Social Security benefits. This theoretical formulation produces comparative dynamic predictions and guides empirical modeling. Data from a new survey of workers and their income opportunities are used to implement the empirical model. On the basis of empirical retirement estimates, we conclude that (1) people with higher base wealth retire earlier, and (2) those who expect to gain more by postponing retirement retire later.

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Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

Volume (Year): 19 (1984)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 245-262

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:19:y:1984:i:2:p:245-262
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://jhr.uwpress.org/

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  1. Boskin, Michael J. & Hurd, Michael D., 1978. "The effect of social security on early retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 361-377, December.
  2. Sheshinski, Eytan, 1978. "A model of social security and retirement decisions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 337-360, December.
  3. Roger H. Gordon & Alan S. Blinder, 1980. "Market wages, reservation wages, and retirement decisions," NBER Chapters, in: Econometric Studies in Public Finance, pages 277-308 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1984. "Partial retirement and the analysis of retirement behavior," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 37(3), pages 403-415, April.
  5. Crawford, Vincent P & Lilien, David M, 1981. "Social Security and the Retirement Decision," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 96(3), pages 505-29, August.
  6. Gary Burtless & Jerry A. Hausman, 1981. ""Double Dipping": The Combined Effects of Social Security and Civil Service Pensions on Employee Retirement," NBER Working Papers 0800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. G. Burtless & J. A. Hausman, 1977. "The Effect of Taxation on Labor Supply: Evaluating the Gary Negative Income Tax Experiment," Working papers 211, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  8. John B. Burbidge & A. Leslie Robb, 1980. "Pensions and Retirement Behaviour," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 13(3), pages 421-37, August.
  9. Zabalza, A. & Pissarides, C. & Barton, M., 1980. "Social security and the choice between full-time work, part-time work and retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 245-276, October.
  10. Richard V. Burkhauser, 1979. "The Pension Acceptance Decision of Older Workers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(1), pages 63-75.
  11. Olivia S. Mitchell & Gary S. Fields, 1981. "The Effects of Pensions and Earnings on Retirement: A Review Essay," NBER Working Papers 0772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Heckman, James J & Macurdy, Thomas E, 1980. "A Life Cycle Model of Female Labour Supply," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 47-74, January.
  13. Alan S. Blinder & Roger H. Gordon & Donald E. Wise, 1980. "Reconsidering the Work Disincentive Effects of Social Security," NBER Working Papers 0562, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Feldstein, Martin S, 1974. "Social Security, Induced Retirement, and Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(5), pages 905-26, Sept./Oct.
  15. Jeremy I. Bulow, 1979. "Analysis of Pension Funding Under Erisa," NBER Working Papers 0402, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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