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Does Eliminating the Earnings Test Increase the Incidence of Low Income Among Older Women?

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  • Theodore Figinski
  • David Neumark

Abstract

Reducing or eliminating Social Security’s Retirement Earnings Test (RET) can encourage labor supply of older individuals receiving benefits. However, these reforms can encourage earlier claiming of Social Security benefits, permanently lowering future benefits. We explore the consequences, for older women, of eliminating the RET from the Full Retirement Age to age 69 (in 2000), relying on the inter-cohort variation in exposure to changes in the RET to estimate these effects. The evidence is consistent with the conclusion that eliminating the RET increased the likelihood of having very low incomes among women in their mid-70s and older – ages at which the lower benefits from claiming earlier could outweigh higher income in the earlier period when women or their husbands increased their labor supply.

Suggested Citation

  • Theodore Figinski & David Neumark, 2015. "Does Eliminating the Earnings Test Increase the Incidence of Low Income Among Older Women?," NBER Working Papers 21601, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21601
    Note: AG LS PE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jeffrey B. Liebman & Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2015. "Would People Behave Differently If They Better Understood Social Security? Evidence from a Field Experiment," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 275-299, February.
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    12. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00768901 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Steven J. Haider & David S. Loughran, 2008. "The Effect of the Social Security Earnings Test on Male Labor Supply: New Evidence from Survey and Administrative Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(1).
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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