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Changing Identity: Retiring from Unemployment

  • Clemens Hetschko
  • Andreas Knabe
  • Ronnie Schöb

Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel from 1984-2009, we follow persons from their working life into their retirement years and find that, on average, employed people maintain their life satisfaction upon retirement, while long-term unemployed people report a substantial increase in their life satisfaction when they retire. These results are robust to controlling for changes in other life circumstances and suggest that retiring is associated with a switch in the relevant social norms that causes an increase in identity utility for the formerly unemployed. This is supportive of the idea that, by including identity in the utility function, results from the empirical life satisfaction literature can be reconciled with the economic theory of individual utility.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.379163.de/diw_sp0399.pdf
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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 399.

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Length: 29 p.
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp399
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  1. Andrew E. Clark & Ed Diener & Yannis Georgellis & Richard E. Lucas, 2008. "Lags and Leads in Life Satisfaction: A Test of the Baseline Hypothesis," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 84, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  2. Andrew E. Clark & Yannis Georgellis, 2002. "Unemployment Alters the Set-Point for Life Satisfaction," Economics and Finance Discussion Papers 02-16, Economics and Finance Section, School of Social Sciences, Brunel University.
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  9. Andreas Knabe & Steffen Rätzel & Ronnie Schöb & Joachim Weimann, 2010. "Dissatisfied with Life but Having a Good Day: Time-use and Well-being of the Unemployed," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(547), pages 867-889, 09.
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  24. Michael Shields & Stephen Wheatley Price & Mark Wooden, 2009. "Life satisfaction and the economic and social characteristics of neighbourhoods," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 22(2), pages 421-443, April.
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  27. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
  28. Michael A. Shields & Stephen Wheatley Price, 2005. "Exploring the economic and social determinants of psychological well-being and perceived social support in England," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 168(3), pages 513-537.
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