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Love, Toil, and Health Insurance: Why American Husbands Retire When They Do

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  • Joshua Congdon-Hohman

    () (Department of Economics, College of the Holy Cross)

Abstract

The provision of health insurance has previously been shown to be an important determinant of retirement timing among older Americans, but the existing literature has largely ignored some aspects of the inter-spousal dependence of health insurance benefits. Specifically, the literature examines only how retirement may affect the health insurance available to the potential retiree but not how it might affect a spouse's options. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, I find that the impact a husband's retirement might have on a wife's health insurance options has a statistically significant impact on a husband's rate of retirement that is independent of considerations of his own health insurance options. In households where the wife is the only one at risk of losing affordable health insurance if the husband retires, the husband is 30 percent less likely to retire than if neither spouse is at risk (a five percentage point decrease in the retirement rate). Based on these findings, prior research is missing one avenue that changes to the Medicare eligibility age and health insurance policy changes through the Affordable Care Act might impact the labor supply of older workers.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua Congdon-Hohman, 2013. "Love, Toil, and Health Insurance: Why American Husbands Retire When They Do," Working Papers 1115, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hcx:wpaper:1115
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    File URL: http://web.holycross.edu/RePEc/hcx/HC1115-Congdon_HealthInsurance.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Eric French & John Bailey Jones, 2011. "The Effects of Health Insurance and Self‐Insurance on Retirement Behavior," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(3), pages 693-732, May.
    2. Paul A. Samuelson, 1956. "Social Indifference Curves," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 1-22.
    3. Erin Strumpf, 2010. "Employer-sponsored health insurance for early retirees: impacts on retirement, health, and health care," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 105-147, June.
    4. John Rust & Christopher Phelan, 1997. "How Social Security and Medicare Affect Retirement Behavior in a World of Incomplete Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 781-832, July.
    5. Kanika Kapur & Jeannette Rogowski, 2007. "The Role of Health Insurance in Joint Retirement among Married Couples," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(3), pages 397-407, April.
    6. David A. Wise, 2001. "Introduction to "Themes in the Economics of Aging"," NBER Chapters,in: Themes in the Economics of Aging, pages 1-20 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Joshua Congdon-Hohman, 2006. "The Impact of Health Insurance Availability on Retirement Decision Reversals," Working Papers wp137, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    8. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
    9. Thomas C. Buchmueller & Robert G. Valletta, 1999. "The Effect of Health Insurance on Married Female Labor Supply," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(1), pages 42-70.
    10. David A. Wise, 2001. "Themes in the Economics of Aging," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number wise01-1.
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    Cited by:

    1. Joshua Congdon-Hohman, 2014. "Retirement Reversals and Health Insurance: the Potential Impact of the Affordable Care Act," Working Papers 1501, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.
    2. James Marton & Stephen A. Woodbury, 2013. "Retiree Health Benefits as Deferred Compensation," Public Finance Review, , vol. 41(1), pages 64-91, January.
    3. Jane G. Gravelle & Sean Lowry, 2016. "The Affordable Care Act, Labor Supply, and Social Welfare," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 69(4), pages 863-882, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Retirement; health insurance; household decision-making;

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations

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