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Technical Progress and Early Retirement

  • Ahituv, Avner
  • Zeira, Joseph

This Paper claims that technical progress induces early retirement of older workers. It supports this claim both theoretically and empirically. We present a model where part of human capital is technology-specific, so that technical progress erodes some existing human capital. This affects mostly older workers, who do not learn the new technology, since their career horizon is short. As a result their participation in the labour force declines. We find strong support to this erosion effect in US data, which shows that labour supply of older workers is negatively related to technical progress across sectors. Unlike the cross-section effect, the model is ambiguous about the aggregate effect of technical progress on labour participation of older workers. While in sectors with many innovations it falls due to erosion of human capital, in other sectors it increases due to higher wages. To examine which effect dominates, we run a time series test and find that the effect of average technical progress on aggregate labour force participation by the old is negative. Namely, the erosion effect dominates.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 2614.

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Date of creation: Nov 2000
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2614
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  1. James H. Stock & David A. Wise, 1988. "Pensions, The Option Value of Work, and Retirement," NBER Working Papers 2686, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Helpman, Elhanan & Trajtenberg, Manuel, 1994. "A Time to Sow and a Time to Reap: Growth Based on General Purpose Technologies," CEPR Discussion Papers 1080, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  7. repec:fth:harver:1487 is not listed on IDEAS
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  14. Peracchi, Franco & Welch, Finis, 1994. "Trends in Labor Force Transitions of Older Men and Women," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(2), pages 210-42, April.
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  16. Leora Friedberg, 2003. "The Impact of Technological Change on Older Workers: Evidence from Data on Computer Use," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(3), pages 511-529, April.
  17. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2000. "Retirement Outcomes in the Health and Retirement Study," NBER Working Papers 7588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Boucekkine, Raouf & de la Croix, David & Licandro, Omar, 2000. "Vintage Human Capital, Demographic Trends and Endogenous Growth," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2000007, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
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  20. Ann P. Bartel & Nachum Sicherman, 1999. "Technological Change and Wages: An Interindustry Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 285-325, April.
  21. Feldstein, Martin S, 1974. "Social Security, Induced Retirement, and Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(5), pages 905-26, Sept./Oct.
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