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Work after Retirement: Worklife Transitions of Career Public Employess


  • Robert L. Clark
  • Robert G. Hammond
  • Siyan Liu


Engaging in paid employment after claiming retirement benefits may be an important avenue for individuals to work longer as life expectancies rise. After separating from one’s career employer, individuals may engage in paid work to stay active or to supplement their current level of retirement savings or both. Individuals who choose not to work after claiming may be expressing their preference to stay retired, perhaps because their retirement income is sufficient. However, the decision to work after claiming may be driven by the lack of retirement planning and insufficient savings, while the lack of post-claiming work may reflect the inability to find adequate employment opportunities. We use administrative records merged with panel data from several surveys of public employees in North Carolina to study the decision to engage in paid work after claiming retirement benefits. More than 60 percent of active workers plan to work after claiming benefits, while only around 42 percent of the same sample of individuals have engaged in post-claiming paid work in the first few years after leaving public sector employment. Despite this gap, stated work plans are strongly predictive of actual post-claiming work behavior

Suggested Citation

  • Robert L. Clark & Robert G. Hammond & Siyan Liu, 2019. "Work after Retirement: Worklife Transitions of Career Public Employess," NBER Working Papers 26272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26272
    Note: AG

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Quinn, Joseph F. & Cahill, Kevin E. & Giandrea, Michael D., 2019. "Transitions from career employment among public- and private-sector workers," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(4), pages 529-548, October.
    2. Robert L. Clark & Lee A. Craig & John Sabelhaus, 2011. "State and Local Retirement Plans in the United States," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 13685, December.
    3. Robert L. Clark & Robert G. Hammond & Christelle Khalaf, 2019. "Planning for Retirement? The Importance of Time Preferences," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 127-150, June.
    4. Clark, Robert L. & Hammond, Robert G. & Vanderweide, David, 2019. "Navigating complex financial decisions at retirement: evidence from annuity choices in public sector pensions," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(4), pages 594-611, October.
    5. Don Bellante & Albert N. Link, 1981. "Are Public Sector Workers More Risk Averse Than Private Sector Workers?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 34(3), pages 408-412, April.
    6. Robert L. Clark & Robert G. Hammond & Melinda S. Morrill & David Vanderweide, 2017. "Annuity Options in Public Pension Plans: The Curious Case of Social Security Leveling," NBER Working Papers 23262, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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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
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets

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