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Myth of the Industrial Scrap Heap: A Revisionist View of Turn-of-the- Century American Retirement

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  • Susan B. Carter
  • Richard Sutch

Abstract

Using the census survival method to calculate net flows across employment states between 1900 and 1910, we find that approximately one-fifth of all men who reached the age of 55 eventually retired before their death. Many of these retirees appear to have planned their withdrawal from paid employment by accumulating assets, becoming self-employed, and then liquidating their assets to provide a stream of income to finance consumption in old age. This `modern' retirement behavior, we argue, has important implications for the economic history of capital and labor markets, of saving and investment, of insurance and pensions, and of the family economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Susan B. Carter & Richard Sutch, 1995. "Myth of the Industrial Scrap Heap: A Revisionist View of Turn-of-the- Century American Retirement," NBER Historical Working Papers 0073, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0073
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