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Work Expectations, Realizations, and Depression in Older Workers


  • Tracy A. Falba
  • William T. Gallo
  • Jody L. Sindelar


We explore the impact on depressive symptoms of deviation in actual labor force behavior at age 62 from earlier expectations. Our sample of 4,241 observations is drawn from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). We examine workers who were less than 62 years of age at the 1992 HRS baseline, and who had reached age 62 by our study endpoint, enabling comparison of actual labor force withdrawal with earlier expectations. Poisson regression were used to estimate the impact of expected full-time work status on depressive symptoms; regressions are estimated separately for those working fulltime at age 62 and those not working fulltime. We found significant effects on depression at age 62 both for full-time workers who expected not to be working full-time, and for participants not working full-time who expected to be doing so. These results hold even after adjustment for earlier depressive symptoms, sociodemographic and other relevant controls. The findings suggest that working longer and retiring earlier than expected each may compromise psychological well-being. The current financial crisis may result in both scenarios as some workers may have to work longer than expected due to the decline in pension and other wealth while others may retire earlier due to job loss.

Suggested Citation

  • Tracy A. Falba & William T. Gallo & Jody L. Sindelar, 2008. "Work Expectations, Realizations, and Depression in Older Workers," NBER Working Papers 14435, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14435
    Note: AG HC

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Michael D. Hurd, 1990. "The Joint Retirement Decision of Husbands and Wives," NBER Chapters,in: Issues in the Economics of Aging, pages 231-258 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Kathleen McGarry, 2004. "Health and Retirement: Do Changes in Health Affect Retirement Expectations?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(3).
    4. Schultz, T.P., 1999. "Labor Market Reforms: Issues, Evidence and Prospects," Papers 802, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
    5. Gloria J. Bazzoli, 1985. "The Early Retirement Decision: New Empirical Evidence on the Influence of Health," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 20(2), pages 214-234.
    6. Gustman, Alan L & Steinmeier, Thomas L, 2000. "Retirement in Dual-Career Families: A Structural Model," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 503-545, July.
    7. John Bound, 1991. "Self-Reported Versus Objective Measures of Health in Retirement Models," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(1), pages 106-138.
    8. Hugo Benítez-Silva & Debra S. Dwyer, 2005. "The Rationality of Retirement Expectations and the Role of New Information," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 587-592, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bassanini, Andrea & Caroli, Eve, 2014. "Is work bad for health? The role of constraint vs choice," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 1402, CEPREMAP.
    2. Montizaan, Raymond M. & Vendrik, Maarten C.M., 2014. "Misery Loves Company: Exogenous shocks in retirement expectations and social comparison effects on subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 1-26.
    3. Andries De Grip & Maarten Lindeboom & Raymond Montizaan, 2012. "Shattered Dreams: The Effects of Changing the Pension System Late in the Game," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(559), pages 1-25, March.
    4. Korthals, R.A., 2012. "Selection and tracking in secondary education : a cross country analysis of student performance and educational opportunities," Research Memorandum 049, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
    5. Maclean, Johanna Catherine, 2013. "The health effects of leaving school in a bad economy," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 951-964.
    6. Messe, Pierre-jean & Wolff, François-Charles, 2017. "Healthier when retiring earlier? Evidence from France," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 1703, CEPREMAP.
    7. repec:dau:papers:123456789/12483 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

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