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Does retirement improve health and life satisfaction?

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  • Aspen Gorry
  • Devon Gorry
  • Sita Nataraj Slavov

Abstract

We utilize panel data from the Health and Retirement Study to investigate the impact of retirement on physical and mental health, life satisfaction, and health care utilization. Because poor health can induce retirement, we instrument for retirement using eligibility for Social Security and employer‐sponsored pensions and coverage by the Social Security earnings test. We find strong evidence that retirement improves reported health, mental health, and life satisfaction. In addition, we find evidence of improvements in functional limitations in the long run. Although the impact on life satisfaction occurs within the first 4 years of retirement, many of the improvements in health show up four or more years later, consistent with the view that health is a stock that evolves slowly. We find no evidence that the health improvements are driven by increased health care utilization. In fact, results suggest decreased utilization in some categories.

Suggested Citation

  • Aspen Gorry & Devon Gorry & Sita Nataraj Slavov, 2018. "Does retirement improve health and life satisfaction?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(12), pages 2067-2086, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:27:y:2018:i:12:p:2067-2086
    DOI: 10.1002/hec.3821
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Baksa & Zsuzsa Munkacsi, 2016. "Aging, (Pension) Reforms and the Shadow Economy in Southern Europe," Bank of Lithuania Working Paper Series 32, Bank of Lithuania.
    2. Claudio Lucifora & Daria Vigani, 2018. "Health care utilization at retirement: The role of the opportunity cost of time," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(12), pages 2030-2050, December.
    3. Yuanlin Gu & Hua-Liang Wei, 2018. "Significant Indicators and Determinants of Happiness: Evidence from a UK Survey and Revealed by a Data-Driven Systems Modelling Approach," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(4), pages 1-12, March.
    4. Everding, Jakob, 2019. "Heterogeneous spillover effects of children's education on parental mental health," hche Research Papers 2019/18, University of Hamburg, Hamburg Center for Health Economics (hche).
    5. Eve Caroli & Claudio Lucifora & Daria Vigani, 2016. "Is there a Retirement-Health Care utilization puzzle? Evidence from SHARE data in Europe," DISCE - Working Papers del Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza def049, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    6. Atalay, Kadir & Barrett, Garry F. & Staneva, Anita, 2019. "The effect of retirement on elderly cognitive functioning," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 37-53.
    7. Mary J. Lopez & Sita Slavov, 2019. "Do Immigrants Delay Retirement and Social Security Claiming?," NBER Working Papers 25518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Michael P. Cameron & Peggy Koopman-Boyden & Matthew Roskruge, 2015. "Labour Force Participation, Human Capital and Wellbeing among Older New Zealanders," Working Papers in Economics 15/07, University of Waikato.
    9. Birgit Leimer, 2017. "No “Honeymoon Phase” Whose health benefits from retirement and when," Working Papers 1718, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz.
    10. Messe, Pierre-Jean & Wolff, François-Charles, 2019. "The short-term effects of retirement on health within couples: Evidence from France," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 221(C), pages 27-39.
    11. Martina Celidoni & Vincenzo Rebba, 2017. "Healthier lifestyles after retirement in Europe? Evidence from SHARE," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 18(7), pages 805-830, September.
    12. Johannes Hagen, 2018. "The effects of increasing the normal retirement age on health care utilization and mortality," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 31(1), pages 193-234, January.
    13. Nielsen, Nick Fabrin, 2019. "Sick of retirement?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 133-152.
    14. Eyjólfsdóttir, H.S. & Baumann, I. & Agahi, N. & Fritzell, J. & Lennartsson, C., 2019. "Prolongation of working life and its effect on mortality and health in older adults: Propensity score matching," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 226(C), pages 77-86.
    15. Hagen, Johannes, 2016. "What are the Health effects of postponing retirement? An instrumental variable approach," Working Paper Series 2016:11, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    16. Martina Celidoni & Vincenzo Rebba, 2015. "Healthier lifestyles after retirement in Europe? Evidence from SHARE," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0201, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

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