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Technical Progress and Early Retirement

  • Ahituv, Avner

    (Hebrew U of Jerusalem)

  • Zeira, Joseph

    (Hebrew U of Jerusalem, Harvard U and CEPR)

This paper claims that technical progress induces early retirement of older workers. It presents a model where human capital is technology specific, so that technical progress erodes some existing human capital. This affects mostly older workers, who have a smaller incentive to learn the new technology, since their career horizon is shorter. Hence, they tend to work less. We find support to this erosion effect in HRS data, which shows that retirement and unemployment of older workers are positively related to technical progress in their sectors. Unlike the effect across sectors, the model is ambiguous about the aggregate effect of technical progress on labor supply of older workers. While in sectors with many innovations it falls due to the erosion effect, in other sectors it increases due to higher wages. To examine which effect dominates we run a time series test using US data and find that the rate of average technical progress reduces aggregate labor force participation by the old. Namely, the erosion effect dominates.

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Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp02-007.

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Date of creation: Feb 2002
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp02-007
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  1. 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.
  2. Jordi Gali, 1999. "Technology, Employment, and the Business Cycle: Do Technology Shocks Explain Aggregate Fluctuations?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 249-271, March.
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  13. Chari, V V & Hopenhayn, Hugo, 1991. "Vintage Human Capital, Growth, and the Diffusion of New Technology," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1142-65, December.
  14. repec:fth:harver:1487 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1991. "Growth and Unemployment," CEPR Discussion Papers 577, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 1998. "Ability Biased Technological Transition, Wage Inequality, and Economic Growth," Working Papers 98-14, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  17. 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.
  18. Cooley, Thomas F. & Dwyer, Mark, 1998. "Business cycle analysis without much theory A look at structural VARs," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1-2), pages 57-88.
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  20. 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.
  21. Jonathan Gruber & David Wise, 1997. "Social Security Programs and Retirement Around the World: Introduction and Summary of Papers by..," NBER Working Papers 6134, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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