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Working Longer in the U.S.: Trends and Explanations

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  • Courtney Coile

Abstract

Over the past two decades, labor force participation rates for older men have been rising, reversing a century-long trend towards earlier retirement. Participation rates for older women are rising as well. A number of theories have been put forward to explain the rise in participation at older ages, including improving mortality and health, increasing education and a shift towards less physically demanding work, and changes in employer-provided benefits and Social Security. This paper documents trends in labor force participation and employment at older ages and in the factors that may be contributing to rising participation. A review of these trends and of the relevant literature suggests that increases in education, women’s growing role in the economy, the shift from defined benefit to defined contribution pension plans, and Social Security reforms all likely played some role in the trend towards longer work lives.

Suggested Citation

  • Courtney Coile, 2018. "Working Longer in the U.S.: Trends and Explanations," NBER Working Papers 24576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24576
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    Cited by:

    1. Pilar García-Gómez & Sílvia Garcia-Mandicó & Sergi Jiménez-Martín & Judit Vall-Castelló, 2018. "Trends in Employment and Social Security Incentives in the Spanish Pension System, 1980–2016," NBER Chapters, in: Social Security Programs and Retirement around the World: Reforms and Retirement Incentives, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Courtney C. Coile, 2018. "The Evolution of Retirement Incentives in the US," NBER Chapters, in: Social Security Programs and Retirement around the World: Reforms and Retirement Incentives, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Michael J. Böhm & Christian Siegel, 2021. "Make Yourselves Scarce: The Effect Of Demographic Change On The Relative Wages And Employment Rates Of Experienced Workers," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 62(4), pages 1537-1568, November.
    4. Butrica, Barbara A. & Karamcheva, Nadia S, 2020. "Is Rising Household Debt Affecting Retirement Decisions?," IZA Discussion Papers 13182, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Gale, William & Gelfond, Hilary & Fichtner, Jason, 2018. "How Will Retirement Saving Change by 2050? Prospects for the Millennial Generation," MPRA Paper 99196, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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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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