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Three Models of Retirement: Computational Complexity versus Predictive Validity

In: Topics in the Economics of Aging

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  • Robin L. Lumsdaine
  • James H. Stock
  • David A. Wise

Abstract

Empirical analysis often raises questions of approximation to underlying individual behavior. Closer approximation may require more complex statistical specifications, On the other hand, more complex specifications may presume computational facility that is beyond the grasp of most real people and therefore less consistent with the actual rules that govern their behavior, even though economic theory may push analysts to increasingly more complex specifications. Thus the issue is not only whether more complex models are worth the effort, but also whether they are better. We compare the in-sample and out-of-sample predictive performance of three models of retirement -- "option value," dynamic programming, and probit -- to determine which of the retirement rules most closely matches retirement behavior in a large firm. The primary measure of predictive validity is the correspondence between the model predictions and actual retirement under the firm's temporary early retirement window plan. The "option value" and dynamic programming models are considerably more successful than the less complex probit model in approximating the rules individuals use to make retirement decisions, but the more complex dynamic programming rule approximates behavior no better than the simpler option value rule.
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Suggested Citation

  • Robin L. Lumsdaine & James H. Stock & David A. Wise, 1992. "Three Models of Retirement: Computational Complexity versus Predictive Validity," NBER Chapters,in: Topics in the Economics of Aging, pages 21-60 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:7097
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Berkovec, James & Stern, Steven, 1991. "Job Exit Behavior of Older Men," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(1), pages 189-210, January.
    2. Gustman, Alan L & Steinmeier, Thomas L, 1986. "A Structural Retirement Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 555-584, May.
    3. Michael D. Hurd & Michael J. Boskin, 1981. "The Effect of Social Security on Retirement in the Early 1970s," NBER Working Papers 0659, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Jerry A. Hausman & David A. Wise, 1985. "Social Security, Health Status, and Retirement," NBER Chapters,in: Pensions, Labor, and Individual Choice, pages 159-192 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Lumsdaine, Robin L. & Stock, James H. & Wise, David A., 1990. "Efficient windows and labor force reduction," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 131-159, November.
    6. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven & David A. Wise, 1987. "Introduction to "Issues in Pension Economics"," NBER Chapters,in: Issues in Pension Economics, pages 1-12 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & David A. Wise, 1987. "The Incentive Effects of Private Pension Plans," NBER Chapters,in: Issues in Pension Economics, pages 283-340 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven & David A. Wise, 1987. "Issues in Pension Economics," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bodi87-1.
    9. Gary Burtless, 1986. "Social Security, Unanticipated Benefit Increases, and the Timing of Retirement," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(5), pages 781-805.
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