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Is Retirement Depressing?: Labor Force Inactivity and Psychological Well-Being in Later Life

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  • Kerwin Kofi Charles

Abstract

This paper assesses how retirement - defined as permanent labor force non-participation in a man's mature years - affects psychological welfare. The raw correlation between retirement and well-being is negative. But this does not imply causation. In particular, people with idiosyncratically low well-being, or people facing transitory shocks which adversely affect well-being might disproportionately select into retirement. Discontinuous retirement incentives in the Social Security System, and changes in laws affecting mandatory retirement and Social Security benefits allows the exogenous effect of retirement on happiness to be estimated. The paper finds that the direct effect of retirement on well-being is positive once the fact that retirement and well being are simultaneously determined is accounted for.

Suggested Citation

  • Kerwin Kofi Charles, 2002. "Is Retirement Depressing?: Labor Force Inactivity and Psychological Well-Being in Later Life," NBER Working Papers 9033, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9033
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Jonathan Skinner, 2007. "Are You Sure You're Saving Enough for Retirement?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 59-80, Summer.
    2. Axel Börsch-Supan & Hendrik Jürges, 2009. "Early Retirement, Social Security and Well-Being in Germany," NBER Chapters,in: Developments in the Economics of Aging, pages 173-199 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Behncke S, 2009. "How Does Retirement Affect Health?," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 09/11, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    4. Peter Eibich, 2014. "Understanding the Effect of Retirement on Health Using Regression Discontinuity Design," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 669, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    5. van Kippersluis, Hans & Van Ourti, Tom & O'Donnell, Owen & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 2009. "Health and income across the life cycle and generations in Europe," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 818-830, July.
    6. Hallberg, Daniel & Johansson, Per & Josephson, Malin, 2014. "Early retirement and post retirement health," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies 2014:5, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    7. Andreas Kuhn & Jean-Philippe Wuellrich & Josef Zweimüller, 2010. "Fatal attraction? Access to early retirement and mortality," IEW - Working Papers 499, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    8. Bonsang, Eric & Adam, Stéphane & Perelman, Sergio, 2012. "Does retirement affect cognitive functioning?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 490-501.
    9. Müller, Tobias & Shaikh, Mujaheed, 2016. "Your Retirement and My Health Behaviour: Evidence on Retirement Externalities from a Fuzzy Regression Discontinuity Design," MPRA Paper 70843, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Thomas Barnay & Eric Defebvre, 2018. "Retired, at last? The short-term impact of retirement on health status in France," TEPP Working Paper 2018-01, TEPP.
    11. repec:dau:papers:123456789/11012 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2006. "Should We Maximize National Happiness?," IEW - Working Papers 306, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    13. Demirguc-Kunt,Asli & Klapper,Leora & Panos,Georgios A., 2016. "Saving for old age," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7693, The World Bank.
    14. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2010. "Happiness and public choice," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 144(3), pages 557-573, September.
    15. Andreea Balan-Cohen, 2008. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise? The Impact of the Old Age Assistance Program on Elderly Mortality in the United States," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0719, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    16. Coe, Norma B. & Lindeboom, Maarten, 2008. "Does Retirement Kill You? Evidence from Early Retirement Windows," IZA Discussion Papers 3817, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    17. repec:dau:papers:123456789/11535 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Eibich, Peter, 2015. "Understanding the effect of retirement on health: Mechanisms and heterogeneity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 1-12.
    19. Hallberg, Daniel & Johansson, Per & Josephson, Malin, 2015. "Is an early retirement offer good for your health? Quasi-experimental evidence from the army," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 274-285.
    20. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2004. "Subjective Outcomes in Economics," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 71(1), pages 2-11, July.
    21. Garry F. Barrett & Milica Kecmanovic, 2013. "Changes in subjective well-being with retirement: assessing savings adequacy," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(35), pages 4883-4893, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

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