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Projecting Behavioral Responses to the Next Generation of Retirement Policies


  • Alan Gustman

    (Dartmouth College and NBER)

  • Thomas Steinmeier

    (Texas Tech University)


This paper examines retirement and related behavioral responses to policies that on average are actuarially neutral. Many conventional models predict that actuarially neutral policies will not affect retirement behavior. In contrast, our model allows those with high time preference rates to find that the promise of an actuarially fair increase in future rewards does not balance the loss from foregone current benefits. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, we find that from age 62 through full retirement age, the earnings test reduces full-time work by married men by about four percentage points, or by about ten percent of married men at full-time work. Abolishing the requirements on many jobs that an individual work full-time or not at all, what we term a minimum hours constraint on employment, would induce more than twice as many people to enter partial retirement as would leave full-time work, so that total full-time equivalent (FTE) employment would increase, although by a modest amount. If all benefits from personal accounts could be taken as a lump sum, the fraction not retired at age 62 would fall by about 5 percentage points compared to a system where there is mandatory annuitization of benefits.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan Gustman & Thomas Steinmeier, 2007. "Projecting Behavioral Responses to the Next Generation of Retirement Policies," Working Papers wp153, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp153

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1982. "Minimum Hours Constraints and Retirement Behavior," NBER Working Papers 0940, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Roger H. Gordon & Alan S. Blinder, 1980. "Market wages, reservation wages, and retirement decisions," NBER Chapters,in: Econometric Studies in Public Finance, pages 277-308 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Burtless, Gary & Moffitt, Robert A, 1985. "The Joint Choice of Retirement Age and Postretirement Hours of Work," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(2), pages 209-236, April.
    5. 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.
    6. Leora Friedberg, 2000. "The Labor Supply Effects of the Social Security Earnings Test," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(1), pages 48-63, February.
    7. Richard Disney & Sarah Smith, 2002. "The Labour Supply Effect of the Abolition of the Earnings Rule for Older Workers in the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages 136-152, March.
    8. Pakes, Ariel & Pollard, David, 1989. "Simulation and the Asymptotics of Optimization Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(5), pages 1027-1057, September.
    9. Even, William E. & Macpherson, David A., 2004. "Do Pensions Impede Phased Retirement?," IZA Discussion Papers 1353, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Feldstein, Martin & Samwick, Andrew A., 1992. "Social Security Rules and Marginal Tax Rates," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, March.
    11. Coile, Courtney & Diamond, Peter & Gruber, Jonathan & Jousten, Alain, 2002. "Delays in claiming social security benefits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 357-385, June.
    12. Samwick, Andrew A., 1998. "Discount rate heterogeneity and social security reform," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 117-146, October.
    13. Leora Friedberg & Anthony Webb, 2005. "Retirement and the Evolution of Pension Structure," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(2).
    14. Michael D. Hurd, 1993. "The Effect of Labor Market Rigidities on the Labor Force Behavior of Older Workers," NBER Working Papers 4462, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2002. "Retirement and the Stock Market Bubble," NBER Working Papers 9404, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alicia H. Munnell & Steven A. Sass, 2007. "The Labor Supply of Older Americans," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2007-12, Center for Retirement Research, revised Jun 2007.
    2. Esteban Calvo & Kelly Haverstick & Steven A. Sass, 2007. "What Makes Retirees Happier: A Gradual or 'Cold Turkey' Retirement?," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2007-18, Center for Retirement Research, revised Oct 2007.
    3. Adeline Delavande & Susann Rohwedder, 2008. "Individuals’ Responses to Social Security Reform," Working Papers wp182, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    4. Katharine G. Abraham & Susan N. Houseman, 2008. "Removing Barriers to Work for Older Americans," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers,in: Timothy J. Bartik & Susan N. Houseman (ed.), A Future of Good Jobs? America's Challenge in the Global Economy, chapter 5, pages 161-202 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    5. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas Steinmeier, 2008. "How Changes in Social Security Affect Recent Retirement Trends," NBER Working Papers 14105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Alicia H. Munnell & Dan Muldoon & Steven A. Sass, 2009. "Recessions and Older Workers," Issues in Brief ib2009-9-2, Center for Retirement Research, revised Jan 2009.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy

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