IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/7368.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

What People Don't Know About Their Pensions and Social Security: An Analysis Using Linked Data from the Health and Retirement Study

Author

Listed:
  • Alan L. Gustman
  • Thomas L. Steinmeier

Abstract

Pension plan descriptions from respondents to the 1992 Health and Retirement Study are compared with descriptions obtained from their employers. Earnings histories reported by respondents are compared with earnings histories from the Social Security Administration. The probability of linking employer pension data, which is two thirds for current jobs, and of obtaining permission to link an earnings history, which is over 70 percent, are not well explained by respondent characteristics. Half of respondents with linked pension data correctly identify plan type, and fewer than half identify, within one year, dates of eligibility for early and normal retirement benefits. Benefit reduction rates are essentially not reported. Respondents do better in reporting pension values, but the unexplained variation is still considerable. In contrast, respondent reported values, together with other observables, account for 80 percent of the variation in pension values and 75 percent of the variation in covered earnings measured from linked records. Thus prospects are good for imputing plan values, but not for imputing the location or size of early retirement incentives. Our findings raise questions about how well respondents understand complex pension and Social Security rules.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1999. "What People Don't Know About Their Pensions and Social Security: An Analysis Using Linked Data from the Health and Retirement Study," NBER Working Papers 7368, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7368
    Note: AG LS PE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w7368.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1987. "Social Security Benefits: An Empirical Study of Expectations and Realizations," NBER Working Papers 2257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Alan L. Gustman & Olivia S. Mitchell & Andrew A. Samwick & Thomas L. Steinmeier, "undated". "Evaluating Pension Entitlements," Pension Research Council Working Papers 98-20, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
    3. Courtney Coile & Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Social Security and Retirement," NBER Working Papers 7830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Alan L. Gustman & F. Thomas Juster, 1995. "Income and Wealth of Older American Households: Modeling Issues for Public Policy Analysis," NBER Working Papers 4996, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7368. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.