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Social Security, Retirement and Wealth: Theory and Implications


  • Miles S. Kimball

    (University of Michigan)

  • Matthew D. Shapiro

    (University of Michigan)


The effect of Social Security rules on the age people choose to retire can be critical in evaluating proposed changes to those rules. This research derives a theory of retirement that views retirement as a special type of labor supply decision. This decision is driven by wealth and substitution effects on labor supply, interacting with a fixed cost of working that makes low hours of work unattractive. The theory is tractable analytically, and therefore well-suited for analyzing proposals that affect Social Security. This research examines how retirement age varies with generosity of Social Security benefits. A ten-percent reduction in the value of benefits would lead individuals to postpone retirement by between one-tenth and one-half a year. Individuals who are relatively buffered from the change—because they are wealthier or because they are younger and therefore can more easily increase saving to offset the cut in benefits— will have smaller changes in their retirement ages. Authors’ Acknowledgements This work was supported by a grant from the Social Security Administration through the Michigan Retirement Research Center (Grant #10-P-98358-5). The opinions and conclusions are solely those of the authors and should not be considered as representing the opinions or policy of the Social Security Administration or any agency of the Federal Government. The authors gratefully acknowledge this support.

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  • Miles S. Kimball & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2003. "Social Security, Retirement and Wealth: Theory and Implications," Working Papers wp054, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp054

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Banks, James & Blundell, Richard & Tanner, Sarah, 1998. "Is There a Retirement-Savings Puzzle?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 769-788.
    2. MaCurdy, Thomas E, 1981. "An Empirical Model of Labor Supply in a Life-Cycle Setting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1059-1085, December.
    3. Miles S. Kimball & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2008. "Labor Supply: Are the Income and Substitution Effects Both Large or Both Small?," NBER Working Papers 14208, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bingbing Dong, 2014. "Asset Pricing and Monetary Policy," 2014 Meeting Papers 881, Society for Economic Dynamics.

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