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Social Security and Retirement in the U.S

  • Peter Diamond
  • Jonathan Gruber

The largest entitlement program in the United States today is the Social Security program (SS). We provide an overview of the interaction between the SS system and retirement behavior. We begin by documenting historical trends in labor force participation and program receipt, and contemporaneous patterns of work and income receipt for the current cohort of older persons. We then present an overview of the structure of the SS program in the U.S., and review existing evidence on the relationship between SS and retirement. Finally, we present results of a simulation model which measures the implicit tax/subsidy rate on work after age 55 through the SS system. We find that, for married workers, the system is roughly neutral with respect to work after age 62, but that it heavily penalizes work after age 65. But there are larger tax rates on single workers and on high earning workers.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6097.

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Date of creation: Jul 1997
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Gruber and Wise (eds.) Social Security and Retirement around the World. University of Chicago Press, 1998.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6097
Note: AG LS PE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Christopher J. Ruhm, 1995. "Secular Changes in the Work and Retirement Patterns of Older Men," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(2), pages 362-385.
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  11. Hurd, Michael D, 1990. "Research on the Elderly: Economic Status, Retirement, and Consumption and Saving," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(2), pages 565-637, June.
  12. Feldstein, Martin & Samwick, Andrew A., 1992. "Social Security Rules and Marginal Tax Rates," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, March.
  13. Blau, David M, 1994. "Labor Force Dynamics of Older Men," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(1), pages 117-56, January.
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  16. Crawford, Vincent P & Lilien, David M, 1981. "Social Security and the Retirement Decision," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 96(3), pages 505-29, August.
  17. David A. Wise & Robin L. Lumsdaine, 1990. "Aging and Labor Force Participation: A Review of Trends and Explanations," NBER Working Papers 3420, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Gary Burtless & Robert A. Moffitt, 1986. "Social Security, Earnings Tests, and Age at Retirement," Public Finance Review, , vol. 14(1), pages 3-27, January.
  19. Jonathan Gruber & Jeffrey D. Kubik, 1994. "Disability Insurance Rejection Rates and the Labor Supply of Older Workers," NBER Working Papers 4941, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Parsons, Donald O, 1980. "The Decline in Male Labor Force Participation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 117-34, February.
  21. Parsons, Donald O, 1991. "The Health and Earnings of Rejected Disability Insurance Applicants: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1419-26, December.
  22. Peracchi, Franco & Welch, Finis, 1994. "Trends in Labor Force Transitions of Older Men and Women," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(2), pages 210-42, April.
  23. Michael J. Boskin & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Douglas J. Puffert & John B. Shoven, 1986. "Social Security: A Financial Appraisal Across and Within Generations," NBER Working Papers 1891, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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