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How is Economic Hardship Avoided by Those Retiring Before the Social Security Entitlement Age?

  • Kevin S. Milligan

Governments around the world are reacting to extended lifespans and troubled pension finances by increasing the age of retirement benefit entitlement. One concern that arises is how those who are not working before reaching entitlement age are able to bridge their consumption to the age of entitlement. This paper studies those who retire before the age of full pension entitlement in the United States using data drawn from the Health and Retirement Study. The major finding is that four out of five people who have zero earnings at pre-entitlement ages are able to find a way to lift their incomes over the poverty line. For men, pension and annuity income is important while for women, spousal income helps most to get them over the line. Reaching the early retirement entitlement age at 62 also has a significant impact on poverty avoidance.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18051.

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Date of creation: May 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as "How is hardship avoided by those retiring before the Social Security entitlement age?" Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, forthcoming.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18051
Note: AG
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  1. Jeff Borland, 2005. "Transitions to Retirement: A Review," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2005n03, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  2. Frank T. Denton & Byron G. Spencer, 2008. "What Is Retirement? A Review and Assessment of Alternative Concepts and Measures," Quantitative Studies in Economics and Population Research Reports 427, McMaster University.
  3. Michael Baker & Jonathan Gruber & Kevin S. Milligan, 2009. "Retirement Income Security and Well-Being in Canada," NBER Working Papers 14667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Richard W. Johnson & Gordon B.T. Mermin, 2009. "Financial Hardship Before and After Social Security's Early Eligibility Age," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2009-8, Center for Retirement Research, revised Mar 2009.
  5. Kevin Milligan, 2007. "The Evolution of Elderly Poverty in Canada," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 170, McMaster University.
  6. Gary V. Engelhardt & Jonathan Gruber, 2004. "Social Security and the Evolution of Elderly Poverty," NBER Working Papers 10466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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