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A Dynamic Programming Model of Retirement Behavior

In: The Economics of Aging

  • John P. Rust

This paper formulates a model of retirement behavior based on the solution to a stochastic dynamic programming problem. The workers objective is to maximize expected discounted utility over his remaining lifetime. At each time period the worker chooses how much to consume and whether to work full-time, part-time, or exit the labor force. The model accounts for the sequential nature f the retirement decision problem, and the role of expectations of uncertain future variables such as the worker's future lifespan, health status, marital and family status, employment status, as well as earnings from employment, assets, and social security retirement, disability and medicare payments. This paper applies a "nested fixed point" algorithm that converts the dynamic programming problem into the problem of repeatedly recomputing the fixed point to a contraction mapping operator as a subroutine of a standard nonlinear maximum likelihood program. The goal of the paper is to demonstrate that a fairly complex and realistic formulation of the retirement problem can be estimated using this algorithm and a current generation supercomputer, the Cray-2.

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This chapter was published in:
  • David A. Wise, 1989. "The Economics of Aging," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number wise89-1, March.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11588.
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