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Aging and Labor Force Participation: A Review of Trends and Explanations

In: Aging in the United States and Japan: Economic Trends

  • Robin L. Lumsdaine
  • David A. Wise

The American population is aging rapidly. Persons 65 and over who now constitute about one-fifth of the population will constitute about two-fifths of the population by 2040. In addition, individuals are living longer. Yet the labor force participation of older Americans has fallen dramatically in recent years. This paper discusses this trend and the principal arguments put forth to explain it. The paper is in two parts. The first part reviews trends in labor force participation and associated trends in Social Security (SS) coverage, firm pension plan coverage, and other factors that are likely to be associated with the labor force participation trends, including demographics. The second part of the paper discusses the incentive effects of SS and retirement plans, with emphasis on firm pension plans.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Yukio Noguchi & David A. Wise, 1994. "Aging in the United States and Japan: Economic Trends," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number nogu94-1.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 8040.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:8040
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    1. 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.
    2. David T. Ellwood, 1985. "Pensions and the Labor Market: A Starting Point (The Mouse Can Roar)," NBER Chapters, in: Pensions, Labor, and Individual Choice, pages 19-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-84, December.
    4. John Rust, 1987. "A Dynamic Programming Model of Retirement Behavior," NBER Working Papers 2470, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    7. Howard L. Frant & Herman B. Leonard, 1987. "Promise Them Anything: The Incentive Structures of Local Public Pension Plans," NBER Chapters, in: Public Sector Payrolls, pages 215-242 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Steven G. Allen & Robert L. Clark & Ann A. McDermed, 1988. "Why Do Pensions Reduce Mobility?," NBER Working Papers 2509, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Barry Nalebuff & Richard J. Zeckhauser, 1984. "Pensions and the Retirement Decision," NBER Working Papers 1285, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Jerry A. Hausman & David A. Wise, 1980. "Discontinuous Budget Constraints and Estimation: The Demand for Housing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 75-96.
    11. Edward P. Lazear, 1982. "Pensions as Severance Pay," NBER Working Papers 0944, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Richard V. Burkhauser, 1980. "The Early Acceptance of Social Security: An Asset Maximization Approach," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 33(4), pages 484-492, July.
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    14. Berkovec, James & Stern, Steven, 1991. "Job Exit Behavior of Older Men," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(1), pages 189-210, January.
    15. Faith Ando, 1988. "Capital issues and the minority-owned business," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 16(4), pages 77-109, March.
    16. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven & David A. Wise, 1987. "Issues in Pension Economics," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bodi87-1.
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    18. 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.
    19. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1983. "A Structural Retirement Model," NBER Working Papers 1237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    22. repec:hoo:wpaper:e-88-29 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Joseph F. Quinn & Richard V. Burkhauser, 1983. "Influencing retirement behavior: A key issue for social security," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 3(1), pages 1-13.
    24. Edward P. Lazear & Robert L. Moore, 1988. "Pensions and Turnover," NBER Chapters, in: Pensions in the U.S. Economy, pages 163-190 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    25. 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.
    26. Jeanne M. Hogarth, 1988. "Accepting an Early Retirement Bonus an Empirical Study," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(1), pages 21-33.
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    28. Jeremy I. Bulow, 1981. "Early Retirement Pension Benefits," NBER Working Papers 0654, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    29. Stock, James H & Wise, David A, 1990. "Pensions, the Option Value of Work, and Retirement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(5), pages 1151-80, September.
    30. Robert L. Clark & Ann A. McDermed, 1986. "Earnings and Pension Compensation: The Effect of Eligibility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(2), pages 341-361.
    31. David A. Wise, 1987. "Public Sector Payrolls," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number wise87-1.
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    33. 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.
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