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The effect of part-time work on wages: evidence from the Social Security rules

  • Daniel Aaronson
  • Eric French

This paper presents estimates of the part-time wage effect. It also shows that failure to account for the part-time wage effect leads to a downward biased estimate of labor supply elasticities of interest. Using three different datasets, we show that both work hours and wages drop sharply at ages 62 and 65. The Social Security rules produce strong incentives to reduce work hours at these ages. We present evidence that these sharp drops in work hours cause a drop in wages for men, although we find little evidence for a similar effect among women. Estimates indicate that, holding all else equal, cutting the workweek from 40 to 20 hours results in roughly a 25 percent wage penalty for male workers at these older ages. Given these estimates, the labor supply response to a tax change, for example, is downward biased by about 26 percent.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-01-20.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-01-20
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  1. Altonji, Joseph G, 1986. "Intertemporal Substitution in Labor Supply: Evidence from Micro Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages S176-S215, June.
  2. Wayne Simpson, 1986. "Analysis of Part-Time Pay in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 19(4), pages 798-807, November.
  3. Bound, John & Brown, Charles & Mathiowetz, Nancy, 2001. "Measurement error in survey data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 59, pages 3705-3843 Elsevier.
  4. MaCurdy, Thomas E, 1981. "An Empirical Model of Labor Supply in a Life-Cycle Setting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1059-85, December.
  5. Hotchkiss, Julie L, 1991. "The Definition of Part-Time Employment: A Switching Regression Model with Unknown Sample Selection," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 32(4), pages 899-917, November.
  6. Moffitt, Robert, 1984. "The Estimation of a Joint Wage-Hours Labor Supply Model," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(4), pages 550-66, October.
  7. Nelson, Charles R & Startz, Richard, 1990. "Some Further Results on the Exact Small Sample Properties of the Instrumental Variable Estimator," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(4), pages 967-76, July.
  8. Heckman, James J, 1976. "A Life-Cycle Model of Earnings, Learning, and Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S11-44, August.
  9. Browning, Martin & Deaton, Angus & Irish, Margaret, 1985. "A Profitable Approach to Labor Supply and Commodity Demands over the Life-Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(3), pages 503-43, May.
  10. Alan L. Gustman & Olivia S. Mitchell & Andrew A. Samwick & Thomas L. Steinmeier, . "Evaluating Pension Entitlements," Pension Research Council Working Papers 98-20, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  11. Hirsch, Barry, 2004. "Why Do Part-Time Workers Earn Less? The Role of Worker and Job Skills," IZA Discussion Papers 1261, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Rosen, Harvey S, 1976. "Taxes in a Labor Supply Model with Joint Wage-Hours Determination," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(3), pages 485-507, May.
  13. Eric French, 2000. "The effects of health, wealth, and wages on labor supply and retirement behavior," Working Paper Series WP-00-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  14. Lettau, Michael K., 1997. "Compensation in part-time jobs versus full-time jobs What if the job is the same?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 101-106, September.
  15. Heckman, James J & Macurdy, Thomas E, 1980. "A Life Cycle Model of Female Labour Supply," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 47-74, January.
  16. Lundberg, Shelly J, 1985. "Tied Wage-Hours Offers and the Endogeneity of Wages," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(3), pages 405-10, August.
  17. Gustman, Alan L & Steinmeier, Thomas L, 1986. "A Structural Retirement Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 555-84, May.
  18. Ruhm, Christopher J, 1990. "Bridge Jobs and Partial Retirement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(4), pages 482-501, October.
  19. Blomquist, N Soren, 1985. "Labour Supply in a Two-Period Model: The Effect of a Nonlinear Progressive Income Tax," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(3), pages 515-24, July.
  20. Eissa, Nada & Liebman, Jeffrey B, 1996. "Labor Supply Response to the Earned Income Tax Credit," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 605-37, May.
  21. Lazear, Edward P, 1981. "Agency, Earnings Profiles, Productivity, and Hours Restrictions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 606-20, September.
  22. Barzel, Yoram, 1973. "The Determination of Daily Hours and Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 220-38, May.
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