Retirement Trends and Policies to Encourage Work Among Older Americans
The trend toward earlier and earlier retirement was one of the most important labor market developments of the twentieth century. It was evident in all the major industrialized countries. In the United States, however, the trend toward earlier retirement came to at least a temporary halt in the mid-1980s. Male participation rates at older ages have stabilized or even increased slightly. Older womens' participation rates are clearly rising. This paper examines the environmental and policy changes contributing to the long-term decline in the U.S. retirement age as well as developments that contributed to the recent reversal. The dominant source of earlier retirement was the long-term increase in Americans' wealth, which permitted workers to enjoy rising living standards even as they spent a growing percentage of their lives outside the paid work force. The expansion of Social Security pensions and of employer-sponsored pension plans and the introduction of mandatory retirement rules also encouraged earlier retirement over much of the last century. Many public policies and private institutions that encouraged early retirement have been modified in recent years. Mandatory retirement has been outlawed in most jobs. Social Security is no longer growing more generous, and worker coverage under company pension plans is no longer rising. Both Social Security and many private pensions have become more "age neutral" with respect to retirement. Public and private pension programs now provide weaker financial incentives for workers to retire at particular ages, such as age 62 or age 65, and offer stronger incentives for aging workers to remain in the labor force. The paper outlines additional policies that could encourage later retirement. An open question is whether such policies are needed. Rising labor productivity and increased work effort during the pre-retirement years mean that Americans can continue to enjoy higher living standards, even as improved longevity adds to the number of years that workers spend in retirement. If opinion polls are to be believed, most workers favor preserving the institutions that allow early retirement even if it means these institutions will require heavier contributions from active workers.
|Date of creation:||12 Jan 2000|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published in Ensuring Health and Income Security for an Aging Workforce, (Peter Budetti, Richard Burkhauser, Janice Gregory and Allan Hunt, editors). Kalamazoo: The W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 2001, pp. 375-415.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill MA 02467 USA|
Web page: http://fmwww.bc.edu/EC/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Alicia H. Munnell, 1997. "Social Security: it ain't broken," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 41(Jun), pages 297-303.
- Alan B. Krueger & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1991.
"The Effect of Social Security on Labor Supply: A Cohort Analysis of the Notch Generation,"
NBER Working Papers
3699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Krueger, Alan B & Pischke, Jorn-Steffen, 1992. "The Effect of Social Security on Labor Supply: A Cohort Analysis of the Notch Generation," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(4), pages 412-37, October.
- Joseph F. Quinn, 1993. "Retirement And The Labor Force Behavior Of The Elderly," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 257, Boston College Department of Economics.
- Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1993.
"Employer Provided Health Insurance and Retirement Behavior,"
NBER Working Papers
4307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1994. "Employer-Provided Health Insurance and Retirement Behavior," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(1), pages 124-140, October.
- Burtless, Gary & Moffitt, Robert A, 1985. "The Joint Choice of Retirement Age and Postretirement Hours of Work," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(2), pages 209-36, April.
- Joseph F. Quinn, 1993. "The Future Of Retirement," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 249, Boston College Department of Economics.
- 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.
- Joseph F. Quinn & Richard V. Burkhauser & Daniel A. Myers, 1990. "Passing the Torch: The Influence of Economic Incentives on Work and Retirement," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number pt, November.
- J. E. Stiglitz, 1999. "Introduction," Economic Notes, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA, vol. 28(3), pages 249-254, November.
- Courtney Coile & Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Social Security and Retirement," NBER Working Papers 7830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Sveinbjörn Blöndal & Stefano Scarpetta, 1999. "The Retirement Decision in OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 202, OECD Publishing.
- Joseph F. Quinn, 1999. "Has the Early Retirement Trend Reversed?," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 424, Boston College Department of Economics.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:436. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christopher F Baum)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.