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Understanding Patterns of Social Security Benefit Receipt, Pensions Incomes, Retirement and Saving by Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Marital Status: A Structural Approach

Listed author(s):
  • Alan L. Gustman

    (Dartmouth College and NBER)

  • Thomas L. Steinmeier

    (Texas Tech University)

In this paper we use data from the Health and Retirement Study to examine differences in retirement behavior, wealth, Social Security and pension benefits by race and gender. The differences observed among groups are sometimes substantial. We then estimate models jointly explaining retirement and wealth by race and gender. We decompose differences in outcomes into those due to differences in parameters of the preference function for leisure and goods, time preference rates, and those due to differences in the circumstances of the members of each group. By circumstances we mean both the opportunity set, and factors that determine the disutility of continued work, such as health status. We find that differences in outcomes among white, black and Hispanic males are not due to differences in preferences for leisure and goods consumption, but are due both to differences in time preference and to differences in circumstances. Differences in outcomes between men and women are primarily due to differences in preferences. Authors’ Acknowledgement This paper was supported by a grant from the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) to the Michigan Retirement Research Center, UM 03-13. The opinions and conclusions are solely those of the authors and should not be construed as representing the opinions or policy of SSA, the Michigan Retirement Research Center, or the National Bureau of Economic Research. Alan L. Gustman is Loren Berry Professor of Economics at Dartmouth College, Department of Economics, Hanover, N.H. 03755 ( Thomas L. Steinmeier is Professor of Economics, Texas Tech University, Department of Economics, Lubbock, Texas 79409 (

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Paper provided by University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp082.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2004
Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp082
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  1. Alan L. Gustman & Olivia S. Mitchell & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1995. "Retirement Measures in the Health and Retirement Study," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30, pages s57-s83.
  2. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1982. "Minimum Hours Constraints and Retirement Behavior," NBER Working Papers 0940, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Alan Gustman & Olivia S. Mitchell & Thomas L. Steinmeier, "undated". "Retirement Measures in the Health and Retirement Survey," Pension Research Council Working Papers 94-2, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
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