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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. Eric French, 2005. "The Effects of Health, Wealth, and Wages on Labour Supply and Retirement Behaviour," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(2), pages 395-427.
  2. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg, 2006. "Raising Children to Work Hard: Altruism, Work Norms, and Social Insurance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1473-1503.
  3. John Rust & Christopher Phelan, 1994. "How Social Security and Medicare Affect Retirement Behavior in a World of Incomplete Markets," Public Economics 9406005, EconWPA, revised 06 Jul 1994.
  4. 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.
  5. Low, Hamish & Meghir, Costas & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2008. "Wage Risk and Employment Risk over the Life Cycle," IZA Discussion Papers 3700, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. C Radha Iyengar & Giovanni Mastrobuoni, 2007. "The Political Economy of the Disability Insurance. Theory and Evidence of Gubernatorial Learning from Social Security Administration Monitoring," CeRP Working Papers 70, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
  7. Erosa, Andrés & Fuster, Luisa & Kambourov, Gueorgui, 2012. "Labor supply and government programs: A cross-country analysis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 84-107.
  8. Fatih Guvenen & Burhanettin Kuruscu & Serdar Ozkan, 2009. "Taxation of human capital and wage inequality: a cross-country analysis," IFS Working Papers W09/23, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  9. Courtney C. Coile & Phillip B. Levine, 2006. "Labor Market Shocks and Retirement: Do Government Programs Matter?," NBER Working Papers 12559, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Blau, David M. & Shvydko, Tetyana, 2007. "Labor Market Rigidities and the Employment Behavior of Older Workers," IZA Discussion Papers 2996, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Lars Ljungqvist & Thomas J. Sargent, 2007. "Do Taxes Explain European Employment? Indivisible Labor, Human Capital, Lotteries, and Savings," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2006, Volume 21, pages 181-246 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Daniel Kemptner, 2013. "Health-Related Life Cycle Risks and Public Insurance," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1320, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  18. Gustman, Alan L & Steinmeier, Thomas L, 1986. "A Structural Retirement Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 555-84, May.
  19. John Bailey Jones & Eric French, 2010. "The Effects of Health Insurance and Self-Insurance on Retirement Behavior," Discussion Papers 10-10, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  20. 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, September.
  21. Lindbeck, A., 1994. "Welfare State Disincentives with Endogenous Habits and Norms," Papers 589, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  22. 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.
  23. David Lagakos & Benjamin Moll & Tommaso Porzio & Nancy Qian, 2012. "Experience Matters: Human Capital and Development Accounting," Working Papers 2012-021, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  24. Berkovec, James & Stern, Steven, 1991. "Job Exit Behavior of Older Men," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(1), pages 189-210, January.
  25. Richard Rogerson, 2007. "Taxation and Market Work: Is Scandinavia an Outlier?," NBER Working Papers 12890, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. 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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