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Race Differences in Labor Force Attachment and Disability Status

  • John Bound
  • Michael Schoenbaum
  • Timothy Waidmann

We use the first wave of the Health and Retirement Survey to study the effect of health on the labor force activity of Black and White men and women in their 50s. The evidence we present confirms the notion that health is an extremely important determinant of early labor force exit. Our estimates suggest that health differences between Blacks and Whites can account for most of the racial gap in labor force attachment for men. For women, where participation rates are comparable, our estimates imply that Black women would be substantially more likely to work than White women were it not for the marked health differences. We also find for both men and women that poor health has a substantially larger effect on labor force behavior for Blacks. The evidence suggests that these differences result from Black/White differences in access to the resources necessary to retire.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w5536.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5536.

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Date of creation: Apr 1996
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Publication status: published as Bound, John, Michael Schoenbaum, and Timothy Waidmann. “Race Differences in Labor Force Attachment and Disability Status." The Gerontologist 36 (1996): 311-321.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5536
Note: LS
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  1. Parsons, Donald O, 1980. "Racial Trends in Male Labor Force Participation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 911-20, December.
  2. 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.
  3. Smith, J.P., 1996. "Racial and Ethnic Differences in Wealth in the Health and Retirement Study," Papers 96-12, RAND - Reprint Series.
  4. John Bound & Michael Schoenbaum & Timothy Waidmann, 1995. "Race and Education Differences in Disability Status and Labor Force Attachment," NBER Working Papers 5159, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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