Retirement Wealth Across Cohorts: The Role of Earnings Inequality and Pension Changes
Changes in labor markets over the past 30 years suggest upcoming changes in the distribution of wealth at retirement. Baby boom cohorts have spent the majority of their prime earnings years in a labor market with increased earnings inequality. This paper investigates how changes in lifetime earnings distributions affect the distribution of retirement wealth among cohorts retiring over the next decade. I use data from the Health and Retirement Study from 1992 to 2004 to estimate the relationship between lifetime earnings, pre-retirement private wealth and Social Security wealth. I show that changes in the lower half of the male earnings distribution explain a substantial portion of changes in the distribution of pre-retirement wealth. Growth in women’s earnings across the cohorts do not offset these declines in wealth associated with male earnings. When pensions are added to the measure of wealth, the role of earnings is even larger, reflecting a strong correlation between changes in earnings across these cohorts and changes in the values of their employer-provided pensions. These pension changes do not appear to operate via changes in pension structures (defined benefit versus defined contribution). The present value of wealth from future Social Security benefits, in contrast, grows in real terms throughout most of the distribution. At the bottom of the male distribution of Social Security wealth, reductions in lifetime earnings limit this growth in real benefits, while at the top of the distribution earnings growth amplifies expected growth in Social Security wealth.
|Date of creation:||Sep 2008|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: P.O. Box 1248, Ann Arbor, MI 48104|
Phone: (734) 615-0422
Fax: (734) 647-4575
Web page: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/papers/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Sewin Chan & Ann Huff Stevens, 2008.
"What You Don't Know Can't Help You: Pension Knowledge and Retirement Decision-Making,"
The Review of Economics and Statistics,
MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 253-266, May.
- Sewin Chan & Ann Huff Stevens, 2003. "What You Don't Know Can't Help You: Pension Knowledge and Retirement Decision Making," NBER Working Papers 10185, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Ann Huff Stevens & Sewin Chan, 2005. "What You Don?t Know Can?t Help You: Pension Knowledge and Retirement Decision Making," Working Papers 518, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
- Fortin, N.M. & Lemieux, T., 1996.
"Rank Regressions, Wage Distributions and the Gender Gap,"
Cahiers de recherche
9607, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
- Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 1998. "Rank Regressions, Wage Distributions, and the Gender Gap," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(3), pages 610-643.
- Fortin, N.M. & Lemieux, T., 1996. "Rank Regressions, Wage Distributions and the Gender Gap," Cahiers de recherche 9607, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
- Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1994. "The Growth of Earnings Instability in the U.S. Labor Market," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 217-272.
- Karen E. Dynan & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2000.
"Do the Rich Save More?,"
NBER Working Papers
7906, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Lusardi, Annamaria & Mitchell, Olivia S., 2006.
"Baby boomer retirement security: The roles of planning, financial literacy, and Housing wealth,"
CFS Working Paper Series
2006/20, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
- Lusardi, Annamaria & Mitchell, Olivia S., 2007. "Baby Boomer retirement security: The roles of planning, financial literacy, and housing wealth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 205-224, January.
- Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2006. "Baby Boomer Retirement Security: The Roles of Planning, Financial Literacy, and Housing Wealth," CeRP Working Papers 54, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
- Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2006. "Baby Boomer Retirement Security: the Roles of Planning, Financial Literacy, and Housing Wealth," NBER Working Papers 12585, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2006. "Baby Boomer Retirement Security: The Roles of Planning, Financial Literacy, and Housing Wealth," Working Papers wp114, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
- Engen, Eric & Gale, William & Uccello, Cori, 1999. "The Adequacy of Household Saving," MPRA Paper 56442, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Andrew G. Biggs & Jeffrey R. Brown & Glenn Springstead, 2005.
"Alternative Methods of Price Indexing Social Security: Implications for Benefits and System Financing,"
NBER Working Papers
11406, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Biggs, Andrew G. & Brown, Jeffrey R. & Springstead, Glenn, 2005. "Alternative Methods of Price Indexing Social Security: Implications for Benefits and System Financing," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 58(3), pages 483-504, September.
- Venti, Steven F & Wise, David A, 1998. "The Cause of Wealth Dispersion at Retirement: Choice or Chance?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 185-91, May.
- José Mata & José A. F. Machado, 2005. "Counterfactual decomposition of changes in wage distributions using quantile regression," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 445-465.
- Wolff, Edward N., 2007. "The retirement wealth of the baby boom generation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-40, January.
- James P. Smith, 2004. "Why is Wealth Inequality Rising?," Macroeconomics 0402012, EconWPA.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp186. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (MRRC Administrator)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.