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Is There a Retirement-Consumption Puzzle? Evidence Using Subjective Retirement Expectations

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  • Steven Haider
  • Melvin Stephens Jr.

Abstract

Previous research finds a systematic decrease in consumption at retirement, a finding that is inconsistent with the Life-Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis if retirement is an expected event. In this paper, we use workers' subjective beliefs about their retirement dates as an instrument for retirement. After demonstrating that subjective retirement expectations are strong predictors of subsequent retirement decisions, we still find a retirement consumption decline for workers who retire when expected. However, our estimates of this consumption fall are about a third less than those found when we instead rely on the instrumental variables strategy used in prior studies. Finally, we examine a number of hypotheses that have been put forward to explain the retirement consumption decline. We find little empirical support for these explanations in our data.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven Haider & Melvin Stephens Jr., 2004. "Is There a Retirement-Consumption Puzzle? Evidence Using Subjective Retirement Expectations," NBER Working Papers 10257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10257
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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