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

  • David E. Bloom

    ()

    (Harvard School of Public Health)

  • David Canning

    ()

    (Harvard School of Public Health)

  • Michael Moore

    ()

  • Younghwan Song

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.

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File URL: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/pgda/WorkingPapers/2006/PGDA_WP_17.pdf
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Paper provided by Program on the Global Demography of Aging in its series PGDA Working Papers with number 1706.

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Date of creation: Nov 2006
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Handle: RePEc:gdm:wpaper:1706
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/pgda

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  1. Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & David Weil, 2002. "Mortality Change, the Uncertainty Effect, and Retirement," Macroeconomics 0212006, EconWPA.
  2. 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.
  3. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Rick Mansfield & Michael Moore, 2006. "Demographic Change, Social Security Systems, and Savings," NBER Working Papers 12621, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Michael D. Hurd & Daniel L. McFadden & Li Gan, 1998. "Subjective Survival Curves and Life Cycle Behavior," NBER Chapters, in: Inquiries in the Economics of Aging, pages 259-309 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Michael Hurd & James P. Smith & Julie M. Zissimopoulos, 2003. "The Effects of Subjective Survival on Retirements and Social Security Claiming," Working Papers 03-11, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  6. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Bryan Graham, 2002. "Longevity and Life Cycle Savings," NBER Working Papers 8808, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Raouf Boucekkine & David de la Croix & Omar Licandro, . "vintage human capital, demographic trends and endogenous growth," Working Papers 2000-02, FEDEA.
  8. Michael D. Hurd & Kathleen McGarry, 1997. "The Predictive Validity of Subjective Probabilities of Survival," NBER Working Papers 6193, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Courtney Coile & Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Social Security and Retirement," NBER Working Papers 7830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Deaton, A.S. & Paxson, C.H., 1992. "Saving, Growth, and Aging in Taiwan," Papers 161, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  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.
  12. 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.
  13. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1985. "Expectations, Life Expectancy, and Economic Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(2), pages 389-408, May.
  14. Nan Li & Ronald Lee, 2005. "Coherent mortality forecasts for a group of populations: An extension of the lee-carter method," Demography, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 575-594, August.
  15. Gruber, Jonathan & Wise, David, 1998. "Social Security and Retirement: An International Comparison," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 158-63, May.
  16. James H. Stock & Motohiro Yogo, 2002. "Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2000. "Retirement Outcomes in the Health and Retirement Study," NBER Working Papers 7588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. 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.
  19. Ronald D Lee & Andrew Mason & Tim Miller, 1998. "Saving, Wealth, and Population," Working Papers 199805, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
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