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Retirement and the Evolution of Pension Structure

  • Leora Friedberg
  • Anthony Webb

Defined benefit pension plans have become considerably less common since the early 1980s, while defined contribution plans have spread. Previous research showed that defined benefit plans, with sharp incentives encouraging retirement after a certain point, contributed to the striking postwar decline in American retirement ages. In this paper we find that the absence of age-related incentives in defined contribution plans leads workers to retire almost two years later on average, compared to workers with defined benefit plans. Thus, the evolution of pension structure can help explain recent increases in employment among people in their 60s, after decades of decline.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9999.

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Date of creation: Sep 2003
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Publication status: published as Friedberg, Leora and Anthony Webb. "Retirement and the Evolution of Pension Structure." Journal of Human Resources 40, 2 (Spring 2005): 281-308.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9999
Note: AG LS
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  1. Randall Filer & Marjorie Honig, 2005. "Endogenous Pensions and Retirement Behavior," CESifo Working Paper Series 1547, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Jeffrey R. Brown & Olivia S. Mitchell & James M. Poterba & Mark J. Warshawsky, . "Taxing Retirement Income: Nonqualified Annuities and Distributions from Qualified Accounts," Pension Research Council Working Papers 99-3, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  3. Leora Friedberg, 2001. "The Impact of Technological Change on Older Workers: Evidence from Data on Computer Use," NBER Working Papers 8297, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Eric M. Engen & William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1996. "The Illusory Effects of Saving Incentives on Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 113-138, Fall.
  5. 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.
  6. Leora Friedberg & Michael Owyang, 2004. "Explaining the Evolution of Pension Structure and Job Tenure," NBER Working Papers 10714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Courtney Coile & Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Social Security Incentives for Retirement," NBER Working Papers 7651, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1989. "The Stampede Toward Defined Contribution Pension Plans: Fact or Fiction?," NBER Working Papers 3086, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & David A. Wise, 1987. "Labor Compensation and the Structure of Private Pension Plans: Evidence for Contractual Versus Spot Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 1290, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Leora Freidberg & Michael T. Owyang, 2002. "Not your father's pension plan: the rise of 401K and other defined contribution plans," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan., pages 23-34.
  11. Charles Brown, 2002. "Early Retirement Windows," Working Papers wp028, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  12. Richard V. Burkhauser, 1979. "The Pension Acceptance Decision of Older Workers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(1), pages 63-75.
  13. Leora Friedberg, 2003. "The Impact of Technological Change on Older Workers: Evidence from Data on Computer Use," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(3), pages 511-529, April.
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