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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

Suggested Citation

  • Hugo Benitez-Silva & Debra Dwyer, 2002. "Retirement Expectations Formation Using the Health and Retirement Study," Department of Economics Working Papers 02-04, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics, revised 18 Jun 2002.
  • Handle: RePEc:nys:sunysb:02-04

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Verbeek, Marno & Nijman, Theo, 1992. "Testing for Selectivity Bias in Panel Data Models," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(3), pages 681-703, August.
    2. 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.
    3. John Rust & Christopher Phelan, 1997. "How Social Security and Medicare Affect Retirement Behavior in a World of Incomplete Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 781-832, July.
    4. Lumsdaine, Robin L. & Mitchell, Olivia S., 1999. "New developments in the economic analysis of retirement," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 49, pages 3261-3307 Elsevier.
    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 223-255, March-Apr.
    6. Ekaterini Kyriazidou, 1997. "Estimation of a Panel Data Sample Selection Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(6), pages 1335-1364, November.
    7. 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.
    8. Dwyer, Debra Sabatini & Mitchell, Olivia S., 1999. "Health problems as determinants of retirement: Are self-rated measures endogenous?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 173-193, April.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Debra S. Dwyer & Jianting Hu, "undated". "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. 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.
    13. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Stillman, Steven, 2006. "The Retirement Expectations of Middle-Aged Individuals," IZA Discussion Papers 2449, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Barrett, Alan & Mosca, Irene, 2012. "Announcing an Increase in the State Pension Age and the Recession: Which Mattered More for Expected Retirement Ages?," IZA Discussion Papers 6325, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Julia Lynn Coronado & Maria Perozek, 2003. "Wealth effects and the consumption of leisure: retirement decisions during the stock market boom of the 1900s," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-20, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations

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