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Retirement Expectations Formation Using the Health and Retirement Study

  • Hugo Benitez-Silva


  • Debra Dwyer


This paper examines how a wide array of factors (household and individual level financial, health and other taste shifter characteristics) influence retirement plans over time and how uncertainty affects the strategies that individuals use to plan their retirement years. Using panel data models we examine the role of health and economic factors on retirement planning using the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). We examine the rationality of plans for retirement controlling for sample selection. After controlling for sample selection, reporting biases, and unobserved heterogeneity we find that plans for retirement do follow the random walk hypothesis and pass tests of weak and strong rationality. These findings allow us to assume rationality and examine retirement plans using first differences. We then examine changes to those factors and the effects of new information on plans and find that new information contributes little to changes in plans. This leads us to conclude that on average people correctly form expectations over uncertain events when planning for retirement. These results have important implications for a wide variety of models in economics that assume rational behavior. Classification-JEL: J26, J22, C23,D84 Keywords: Expectations, Retirement, Panel Data with selection, rationality

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Paper provided by Stony Brook University, Department of Economics in its series Department of Economics Working Papers with number 02-04.

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Length: 41
Date of creation: 18 Jun 2002
Date of revision: 18 Jun 2002
Handle: RePEc:nys:sunysb:02-04
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  1. Bound, John & Schoenbaum, Michael & Stinebrickner, Todd R. & Waidmann, Timothy, 1999. "The dynamic effects of health on the labor force transitions of older workers," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 179-202, June.
  2. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1990. "How Do the Elderly Form Expectations? An Analysis of Responses to New Information," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in the Economics of Aging, pages 259-286 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Verbeek, M.J.C.M. & Nijman, T.E., 1990. "Testing for selectivity bias in panel data models," Discussion Paper 1990-18, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  4. Debra S. Dwyer & Olivia S. Mitchell, . "Health Problems as Determinants of Retirement: Are Self-Rated Measures Endogenous?," Pension Research Council Working Papers 98-7, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  5. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-55, March-Apr.
  6. Robin L. Lumsdaine & Olivia S. Mitchell, . "New Developments in the Economic Analysis of Retirement," Pension Research Council Working Papers 98-8, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  7. Mitchell, Olivia S & Fields, Gary S, 1984. "The Economics of Retirement Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(1), pages 84-105, January.
  8. John Rust & Christopher Phelan, 1994. "How Social Security and Medicare Affect Retirement Behavior in a World of Incomplete Markets," Public Economics 9406005, EconWPA, revised 06 Jul 1994.
  9. Vella, F. & Verbeek, M.J.C.M., 1999. "Two-step estimation of panel data models with censored endogenous variables and selection bias," Other publications TiSEM 5aad87bc-25d1-49bc-882b-c, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  10. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1989. "The Timing of Retirement: A Comparison of Expectations and Realizations," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Aging, pages 335-358 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Debra S. Dwyer & Jianting Hu, . "Retirement Expectations and Realizations: The Role of Health Shocks and Economic Factors," Pension Research Council Working Papers 98-18, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  12. Vella, Francis & Verbeek, Marno, 1999. "Two-step estimation of panel data models with censored endogenous variables and selection bias," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 239-263, June.
  13. Nijman, T.E. & Verbeek, M.J.C.M., 1992. "Testing for selectivity in panel data models," Other publications TiSEM 7ec34a6c-1d84-4052-971c-d, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  14. Ekaterini Kyriazidou, 1997. "Estimation of a Panel Data Sample Selection Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(6), pages 1335-1364, November.
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