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Social Insurance and Retirement: A Cross-Country Perspective

In this paper we study the role of social insurance, namely old-age pensions, disability insurance and healthcare, in accounting for the differing labor supply patterns of older individuals across OECD countries. To this end, we develop a life cycle model of labor supply and health with heterogeneous agents. The key features of the framework are: (1) people choose when to stop working, and when/if to apply for disability and pension benefits, (2) the awarding of disability insurance benefits is imperfectly correlated with health, and (3) people can partially insure against health shocks by investing in health, the cost of which is dependent on health insurance coverage. We find that the incentives faced by older workers differ hugely across countries. In fact, based solely on differences in social insurance programs, the model predicts even more cross-country variation in the employment rates of people aged 55-64 than we observe in the data.

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Paper provided by Stockholm School of Economics in its series SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance with number 744.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 25 Apr 2013
Date of revision:
Publication status: Forthcoming as Laun, Tobias and Johanna Wallenius, 'Social Insurance and Retirement: A Cross-Country Perspective' in Review of Economic Dynamics, 2016, pages 72-92.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:hastef:0744
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The Economic Research Institute, Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, 113 83 Stockholm, Sweden

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  1. Fatih Guvenen & Burhanettin Kuruscu & Serdar Ozkan, 2014. "Taxation of Human Capital and Wage Inequality: A Cross-Country Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(2), pages 818-850.
  2. Lee Ohanian & Andrea Raffo & Richard Rogerson, 2006. "Long-Term Changes in Labor Supply and Taxes: Evidence from OECD Countries, 1956-2004," NBER Working Papers 12786, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. James H. Stock & David A. Wise, 1988. "Pensions, The Option Value of Work, and Retirement," NBER Working Papers 2686, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Lindbeck, A., 1994. "Welfare State Disincentives with Endogenous Habits and Norms," Papers 589, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  5. Hamish Low & Costas Meghir & Luigi Pistaferri, 2006. "Wage risk and employment risk over the life cycle," IFS Working Papers W06/27, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  6. Courtney Coile & Jonathan Gruber, 2007. "Future Social Security Entitlements and the Retirement Decision," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 234-246, May.
  7. David Blau & Tetyana Shvydko, 2011. "Labor Market Rigidities and the Employment Behavior of Older Workers," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 64(3), pages 464-484, April.
  8. Eric French & John Bailey Jones, 2004. "The Effects of Health Insurance and Self-Insurance on Retirement Behavior," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2004-12, Center for Retirement Research, revised Apr 2004.
  9. Andrés Erosa & Luisa Fuster & Gueorgui Kambourov, 2011. "Labor supply and government programs: A cross-country analysis," Working Papers 2011-08, Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados (IMDEA) Ciencias Sociales, revised 19 Oct 2011.
  10. Richard Rogerson & Johanna Wallenius, 2013. "Nonconvexities, Retirement, and the Elasticity of Labor Supply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1445-62, June.
  11. 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.
  12. Radha Iyengar & Giovanni Mastrobuoni, 2008. "The Political Economy of the Disability Insurance. Theory and Evidence of Gubernatorial Learning from Social Security Administration Monitoring," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 70, Collegio Carlo Alberto, revised 2010.
  13. Lindbeck, Assar & Nyberg, Sten, 2001. "Raising Children to Work Hard: Altruism, Work Norms and Social Insurance," Research Papers in Economics 2001:5, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  14. Johansson, Per & Laun, Lisa & Laun, Tobias, 2013. "Screening stringency in the disability insurance program," Working Paper Series 2013:10, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  15. Coile, Courtney C. & Levine, Phillip B., 2007. "Labor market shocks and retirement: Do government programs matter?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(10), pages 1902-1919, November.
  16. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1983. "A Structural Retirement Model," NBER Working Papers 1237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Rust, J., 1994. "How Social Security and Medicare Affect Retirement Behavior in a World of Incomplete Markets," Working papers 9430, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  18. Richard Rogerson, 2007. "Taxation and market work: is Scandinavia an outlier?," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 32(1), pages 59-85, July.
  19. Wallenius, Johanna, 2013. "Social security and cross-country differences in hours: A general equilibrium analysis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 2466-2482.
  20. Ljungqvist, Lars & Sargent, Thomas J, 2007. "Do Taxes Explain European Employment? Indivisible Labour, Human Capital, Lotteries and Savings," CEPR Discussion Papers 6196, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  21. Jonathan Gruber & David A. Wise, 2004. "Social Security Programs and Retirement around the World: Micro-Estimation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number grub04-1.
  22. Cara McDaniel, 2011. "Forces Shaping Hours Worked in the OECD, 1960-2004," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 27-52, October.
  23. Berkovec, James & Stern, Steven, 1991. "Job Exit Behavior of Older Men," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(1), pages 189-210, January.
  24. Jonathan Gruber & Kevin Milligan & David A. Wise, 2009. "Social Security Programs and Retirement Around the World: The Relationship to Youth Employment, Introduction and Summary," NBER Working Papers 14647, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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