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Love or Money? Health Insurance and Retirement Among Married Couples

  • Kanika Kapur
  • Jeannette Rogowski

This paper examines the role of employer provided health insurance in the retirement decisions of dual working couples. The near elderly have high-expected medical expenditures; therefore, availability of health insurance is an important factor in their retirement decisions. We determine if access to retiree health insurance for early retirement enables couples to time their retirement together %u2013 a behavior called %u201Cjoint retirement.%u201D We find that wives%u2019 retiree health insurance more than doubles the propensity to retire jointly, suggesting that health insurance is an important consideration in coordinating retirement decisions among couples. Even though retiree health insurance has a substantial effect on joint retirement, its effect on overall employment patterns is modest, accounting for a 2 percentage point fall in employment.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12273.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12273.

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Date of creation: Jun 2006
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12273
Note: AG HC HE LS
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  1. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2001. "Social Security, Pensions and Retirement Behavior Within the Family," Working Papers wp018, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  2. Hutchens, Robert, 1986. "Delayed Payment Contracts and a Firm's Propensity to Hire Older Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(4), pages 439-57, October.
  3. Gruber, Jonathan & Madrian, Brigitte C, 1995. "Health-Insurance Availability and the Retirement Decision," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 938-48, September.
  4. Jonathan Gruber & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2002. "Health Insurance, Labor Supply, and Job Mobility: A Critical Review of the Literature," JCPR Working Papers 255, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  5. John Bailey Jones & Eric French, 2010. "The Effects of Health Insurance and Self-Insurance on Retirement Behavior," Discussion Papers 10-10, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  6. Jonathan Gruber & Brigitte C. Madrian, 1996. "Health Insurance and Early Retirement: Evidence from the Availability of Continuation Coverage," NBER Chapters, in: Advances in the Economics of Aging, pages 115-146 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Michael D. Hurd, 1988. "The Joint Retirement Decision of Husbands and Wives," NBER Working Papers 2803, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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, 05.
  9. Lynn A. Karoly & Jeannette A. Rogowski, 1994. "The Effect of Access to Post-Retirement Health Insurance on the Decision to Retire Early," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(1), pages 103-123, October.
  10. Rust, J., 1994. "How Social Security and Medicare Affect Retirement Behavior in a World of Incomplete Markets," Working papers 9430, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  11. Mark C. Berger & Dan A. Black & Frank A. Scott & Amitabh Chandra, 1999. "Health insurance coverage of the unemployed: COBRA and the potential effects of Kassebaum-Kennedy," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(3), pages 430-448.
  12. 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.
  13. Coile Courtney, 2004. "Retirement Incentives and Couples' Retirement Decisions," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-30, July.
  14. Gale, William G, 1994. "Public Policies and Private Pension Contributions," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 26(3), pages 710-32, August.
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