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Retirement Decisions of Couples: The Impact of Spousal Characteristics and Preferences on the Timing of Retirement

  • Diana Warren

    (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

This paper provides new evidence of coordination of retirement by mature age couples in Australia. Two complementary estimation approaches are used to highlight the importance of taking the household decision-making context into account when modeling the retirement behaviour of partnered men and women. First, a single risk hazard model provides insights into the influences of a spouse’s characteristics on the retirement decision of the individual. Second, a competing-risks framework is used to examine the retirement behaviour of couples exiting from a situation in which both are in paid employment. There is strong evidence of coordination of retirement by mature age couples in Australia due to complementarities in leisure and, for women, because of caring responsibilities. In particular, the results suggest that women may delay their own retirement if their partner has a financial incentive to continue in the labour force; or retire early to care for a partner who is in poor health.

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Paper provided by Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne in its series Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series with number wp2013n41.

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Length: 33pp
Date of creation: Dec 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iae:iaewps:wp2013n41
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Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia

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  1. Mark Y. An & Bent Jesper Christensen & Nabanita Datta Gupta, 2004. "Multivariate mixed proportional hazard modelling of the joint retirement of married couples," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(6), pages 687-704.
  2. Blau, David M. & Riphahn, Regina T., 1998. "Labor Force Transitions of Older Married Couples in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 5, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Diana Warren & Umut Oguzoglu, 2010. "Retirement in Australia: A Closer Look at the Financial Incentives," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 43(4), pages 357-375, December.
  4. Martin Browning, 1994. "The Saving Behaviour of a Two Person Household," Department of Economics Working Papers 1994-01, McMaster University.
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  6. Jonathan Gruber & David A. Wise, 2002. "Social Security Programs and Retirement Around the World: Micro Estimation," NBER Working Papers 9407, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Falkinger, Josef & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf & Zweimüller, Josef, 1994. "Retirement of Spouses and Social Security Reform," CEPR Discussion Papers 855, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Richard Blundell & Costas Meghir & Sarah Smith, 2002. "Pension Incentives and the Pattern of Early Retirement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages C153-C170, March.
  9. T. Schirle, 2007. "Why Have the Labour Force Participation Rates of Older Men Increased Since the Mid 1990s," Working Papers eg0045, Wilfrid Laurier University, Department of Economics, revised 2007.
  10. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2004. "Social security, pensions and retirement behaviour within the family," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(6), pages 723-737.
  11. Courtney Coile, 2003. "Retirement Incentives and Couples' Retirement Decisions," NBER Working Papers 9496, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Gustman, Alan L & Steinmeier, Thomas L, 2000. "Retirement in Dual-Career Families: A Structural Model," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 503-45, July.
  13. 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.
  14. Michaud, Pierre-Carl, 2003. "Joint Labour Supply Dynamics of Older Couples," IZA Discussion Papers 832, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Donna B. Gilleskie & David M. Blau, 2006. "Health insurance and retirement of married couples," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(7), pages 935-953.
  16. 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.
  17. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Stillman, Steven, 2006. "The Retirement Expectations of Middle-Aged Individuals," IZA Discussion Papers 2449, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. Pozzoli, Dario & Ranzani, Marco, 2009. "Old European Couples' Retirement Decisions: the Role of Love and Money," Working Papers 09-2, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
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