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The Effect of Subjective Survival Probabilities on Retirement and Wealth in the United States

Author

Listed:
  • David E. Bloom

    () (Harvard School of Public Health)

  • David Canning

    () (Harvard School of Public Health)

  • Michael Moore

    ()

  • Younghwan Song

Abstract

We explore the proposition that expected longevity affects retirement decisions and accumulated wealth using micro data drawn from the Health and Retirement Study for the United States. We use data on a person’s subjective probability of survival to age 75 as a proxy for their prospective lifespan. In order to control for the presence of measurement error and focal points in responses, as well as reverse causality, we instrument subjective survival probabilities using information on current age, or age at death, of the respondent’s parents. Our estimates indicate that increased subjective probabilities of survival result in increased household wealth among couples, with no effect on the length of the working life. These findings are consistent with the view that retirement decisions are driven by institutional constraints and incentives and that a longer expected lifespan leads to increased wealth accumulation.

Suggested Citation

  • David E. Bloom & David Canning & Michael Moore & Younghwan Song, 2006. "The Effect of Subjective Survival Probabilities on Retirement and Wealth in the United States," PGDA Working Papers 1706, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
  • Handle: RePEc:gdm:wpaper:1706
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    File URL: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/pgda/WorkingPapers/2006/PGDA_WP_17.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Kulish Mariano & Kent Christopher & Smith Kathryn, 2010. "Aging, Retirement, and Savings: A General Equilibrium Analysis," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-32, July.
    2. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Michael Moore, 2004. "The Effect of Improvements in Health and Longevity on Optimal Retirement and Saving," NBER Working Papers 10919, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Ronald D Lee & Andrew Mason & Tim Miller, 1998. "Saving, Wealth, and Population," Working Papers 199805, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
    4. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Bryan Graham, 2003. "Longevity and Life-cycle Savings," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 105(3), pages 319-338, September.
    5. William F. Bassett & Robin L. Lumsdaine, 2001. "Probability Limits: Are Subjective Assessments Adequately Accurate?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(2), pages 327-363.
    6. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1985. "Expectations, Life Expectancy, and Economic Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(2), pages 389-408.
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    8. Courtney Coile & Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Social Security and Retirement," NBER Working Papers 7830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Michael Moore & Younghwan Song, 2007. "The Effect of Subjective Survival Probabilities on Retirement and Wealth in the United States," Chapters,in: Population Aging, Intergenerational Transfers and the Macroeconomy, chapter 4 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. Boucekkine, Raouf & de la Croix, David & Licandro, Omar, 2002. "Vintage Human Capital, Demographic Trends, and Endogenous Growth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(2), pages 340-375, June.
    11. Angus S. Deaton & Christina Paxson, 1994. "Saving, Growth, and Aging in Taiwan," NBER Chapters,in: Studies in the Economics of Aging, pages 331-362 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & David Weil, 2010. "Mortality change, the uncertainty effect, and retirement," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 65-91, March.
    13. Bloom, David E. & Canning, David & Mansfield, Richard K. & Moore, Michael, 2007. "Demographic change, social security systems, and savings," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 92-114, January.
    14. Gruber, Jonathan & Wise, David, 1998. "Social Security and Retirement: An International Comparison," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 158-163, May.
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    17. Nan Li & Ronald Lee, 2005. "Coherent mortality forecasts for a group of populations: An extension of the lee-carter method," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 42(3), pages 575-594, August.
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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Thomas Post & Katja Hanewald, 2010. "Stochastic Mortality, Subjective Survival Expectations, and Individual Saving Behavior," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2010-040, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
    2. Bloom, David E. & Sousa-Poza, Alfonso, 2010. "Economic consequences of low fertility in Europe," FZID Discussion Papers 11-2010, University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID).
    3. Wu, Shang & Stevens, Ralph & Thorp, Susan, 2015. "Cohort and target age effects on subjective survival probabilities: Implications for models of the retirement phase," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 39-56.
    4. Hupfeld, Stefan, 2009. "Rich and healthy--better than poor and sick?: An empirical analysis of income, health, and the duration of the pension benefit spell," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 427-443, March.
    5. repec:mea:meawpa:13270 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Huynh, Kim P. & Jung, Juergen, 2015. "Subjective health expectations," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 693-711.
    7. Groneck, Max & Ludwig, Alexander & Zimper, Alexander, 2016. "A life-cycle model with ambiguous survival beliefs," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 137-180.
    8. A. Ludwig & A. Zimper, 2013. "A parsimonious model of subjective life expectancy," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 75(4), pages 519-541, October.
    9. Aylit Romm, 2015. "The Effect of Retirement Date Expectations on Pre-retirement Wealth Accumulation: The Role of Gender and Bargaining Power in Married US Households," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 36(4), pages 593-605, December.
    10. David E Bloom & David Canning, 2006. "Global Demography: Fact, Force and Future," RBA Annual Conference Volume,in: Christopher Kent & Anna Park & Daniel Rees (ed.), Demography and Financial Markets Reserve Bank of Australia.
    11. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Michael Moore & Younghwan Song, 2007. "The Effect of Subjective Survival Probabilities on Retirement and Wealth in the United States," Chapters,in: Population Aging, Intergenerational Transfers and the Macroeconomy, chapter 4 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    12. Post, Thomas & Hanewald, Katja, 2013. "Longevity risk, subjective survival expectations, and individual saving behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 200-220.
    13. Adeline Delavande & Susann Rohwedder, 2008. "Differential Mortality in Europe and the U.S. Estimates Based on Subjective Probabilities of Survival," Working Papers 613, RAND Corporation.
    14. Spaenjers, Christophe & Spira, Sven Michael, 2015. "Subjective life horizon and portfolio choice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 94-106.
    15. Todd Elder, 2007. "Subjective Survival Probabilities in the Health and Retirement Study: Systematic Biases and Predictive Validity," Working Papers wp159, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    16. Hanming Fang & Michael Keane & Ahmed Khwaja & Martin Salm & Dan Silverman, 2007. "Testing the Mechanisms of Structural Models: The Case of the Mickey Mantle Effect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 53-59, May.
    17. Owen O'Donnell & Federica Teppa & Eddy van Doorslaer, 2008. "Can subjective survival expectations explain retirement behaviour?," DNB Working Papers 188, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    survival; health; longevity; retirement; wealth;

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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