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Personal Accounts and Family Retirement


  • Alan L. Gustman
  • Thomas L. Steinmeier


This paper constructs a model of retirement and saving by two earner couples. The model includes three dimensions of behavior: the joint determination of retirement and saving; heterogeneity in time preference; and the interdependence of retirement decisions of husbands and wives. Estimation is based on panel data from the Health and Retirement Study covering the period 1992 to 2000. When husbands postpone their retirement so they can retire together with their typically younger wives, the spike in retirement at age 62 is smeared to later ages. Thus retirements differ between one and two earner families. We find both an asymmetry in which husbands prefer their wife to be retired before they retire, and a clear distaste of many husbands to retiring when their wives are in poor health, while the wives are willing to stay at home with sickly husbands. We simulate a system of personal Social Security accounts based on a 10.6 percent contribution rate over the lifetime. One version allows individuals to make lump sum withdrawals at retirement instead of annuitizing. This program would increase the retirement rates of husbands at age 62 by about 15 percentage points compared to the current system. Adding a lump sum option, by itself, would increase retirements at 62 by about 6 percentage points.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2004. "Personal Accounts and Family Retirement," NBER Working Papers 10305, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10305
    Note: AG LS PE

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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, 2004. "Social security, pensions and retirement behaviour within the family," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(6), pages 723-737.
    3. Blau, David M, 1998. "Labor Force Dynamics of Older Married Couples," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(3), pages 595-629, July.
    4. 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.
    5. Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
    6. David M. Blau & Donna B. Gilleskie, 2008. "The Role Of Retiree Health Insurance In The Employment Behavior Of Older Men," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(2), pages 475-514, May.
    7. Gustman, Alan L. & Steinmeier, Thomas L., 2005. "The social security early entitlement age in a structural model of retirement and wealth," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 441-463, February.
    8. Diamond, P. A. & Hausman, J. A., 1984. "Individual retirement and savings behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1-2), pages 81-114.
    9. Kahn, James A., 1988. "Social security, liquidity, and early retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 97-117, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Paul Bingley & Gauthier Lanot, 2007. "Public Pension Programmes and the Retirement of Married Couples in Denmark," NBER Chapters,in: Public Policy and Retirement, Trans-Atlantic Public Economics Seminar (TAPES), pages 1878-1901 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Alan Gustman & Thomas Steinmeier, 2008. "How Does Modeling of Retirement Decisions at the Family Level Affect Estimates of the Impact of Social Security Policies on Retirement?," Working Papers wp179, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    3. Gustman, Alan L. & Steinmeier, Thomas L., 2005. "The social security early entitlement age in a structural model of retirement and wealth," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 441-463, February.
    4. Olsson, Martin & Skogman Thoursie, Peter, 2010. "Insured by the partner?," Working Paper Series 2010:3, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    5. Michaud, P.C. & Vermeulen, F.M.P., 2004. "A Collective Retirement Model : Identification and Estimation in the Presence of Externalities," Discussion Paper 2004-75, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    6. Pierre-Carl Michaud & Susann Rohwedder, 2008. "Forecasting Labor Force Participation and Economic Resources of the Early Baby Boomers," Working Papers wp175, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    7. Laura Turner & Giovanni Gallipoli, 2011. "Social Security, Endogenous Retirement, and Intrahousehold Cooperation," 2011 Meeting Papers 935, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

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