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The Effect of Inheritance Receipt on Retirement

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  • Jeffrey R. Brown
  • Courtney C. Coile
  • Scott J. Weisbenner

Abstract

This paper uses the receipt of an inheritance to measure the effect of wealth shocks on retirement. Using the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), we first document that inheritance receipt is common among older workers %u2013 one in five households receives an inheritance over an eight-year period, with a median value of about $30,000. We find that inheritance receipt is associated with a significant increase in the probability of retirement. In particular, we find that receiving an inheritance increases the probability of retiring earlier than expected by 4.4 percentage points, or 12 percent relative to the baseline retirement rate, over an eight-year period. Importantly, this effect is stronger when the inheritance is unexpected and thus more likely to represent an exogenous shock to wealth.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey R. Brown & Courtney C. Coile & Scott J. Weisbenner, 2006. "The Effect of Inheritance Receipt on Retirement," NBER Working Papers 12386, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12386
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

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