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The Role of Information for Retirement Behavior: Evidence Based on the Stepwise Introduction of the Social Security Statement

  • Giovanni Mastrobuoni

In 1995, the Social Security Administration started sending out the annual Social Security Statement. It contains information about the worker’s estimated benefits at the ages 62, 65, and 70. I use this unique natural experiment to analyze the retirement and claiming decision-making. First, I find that, despite the previous availability of information, the Statement has a significant impact on workers’ knowledge about their benefits. These findings are consistent with a model where workers need to gather costly information in order to improve their retirement decision. Second, I use this exogenous variation in knowledge to analyze the optimality of workers’ decisions. Several findings suggest that workers do not change their retirement behavior: i) Workers do not change their expected age of retirement after receiving the Statement; ii) monthly claiming patterns do not show any change after the introduction of the Social Security Statement; iii) workers do not become more sensitive to Social Security incentives after receiving the Statement. Either, workers are already behaving optimally, or the information contained in the Statement is not sufficient to improve their retirement behavior.

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File URL: http://crr.bc.edu/working-papers/the-role-of-information-for-retirement-behavior-evidence-based-on-the-stepwise-introduction-of-the-social-security-statement/
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Paper provided by Center for Retirement Research in its series Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College with number wp2009-23.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2009
Date of revision: Oct 2009
Handle: RePEc:crr:crrwps:wp2009-23
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  1. Liebman, Jeffrey B. & Luttmer, Erzo F.P. & Seif, David G., 2009. "Labor supply responses to marginal Social Security benefits: Evidence from discontinuities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(11-12), pages 1208-1223, December.
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  8. Giovanni Mastrobuoni, 2006. "The Social Security Earnings Test Removal: Money Saved or Money Spent by the Trust Fund?," Working Papers 892, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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  13. John Rust & Christopher Phelan, 1997. "How Social Security and Medicare Affect Retirement Behavior in a World of Incomplete Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 781-832, July.
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