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Re-estimating the Gainful Employment Rate of Older Men: the United States, 1870 to 1930

Author

Listed:
  • Gardner, John
  • Gratton, Brian
  • Moen, Jon

Abstract

Analyses of the economic effects of the introduction of the public pension system on older men in the US have been hamstrung by difficulties generating reliable estimates of historical labor-force participation rates using data from early US censuses that only asked respondents about their occupations and not whether they were actively employed. We extend a unique feature of the 1901 Canadian census, which asked about retirement status as well as occupation, to older men in the 1900 US Census to estimate labor-force participation rates that adjust for misreporting of employment status. Our estimates show that reported rates substantially overestimate labor-force participation among older men. We also show that adjusted rates based on an econometric correction for misclassified limited dependent variables produces are similar to those based on the 1901 Canadian census. Using this technique to extend our adjustment shows that reported rates overstate older men’s labor-force participation rates in the 1880, 1910, 1920 and 1930 census, as well as the decline in those rates between 1900 and 1910.

Suggested Citation

  • Gardner, John & Gratton, Brian & Moen, Jon, 2018. "Re-estimating the Gainful Employment Rate of Older Men: the United States, 1870 to 1930," MPRA Paper 88729, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:88729
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Costa, Dora L., 1998. "The Evolution of Retirement," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226116082, January.
    2. Hausman, J. A. & Abrevaya, Jason & Scott-Morton, F. M., 1998. "Misclassification of the dependent variable in a discrete-response setting," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 239-269, September.
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    5. Lee, Chulhee, 1998. "The Rise of the Welfare State and Labor-Force Participation of Older Males: Evidence from the Pre-Social Security Era," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 222-226, May.
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    7. Costa Dora L., 1995. "Agricultural Decline and the Secular Rise in Male Retirement Rates," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 540-552, October.
    8. Moen, Jon, 1987. "The Labor of Older Men: A Comment," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(03), pages 761-767, September.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Retirement; census; gainful employment; misclassification;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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