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Work and Retirement Plans among Older Americans

  • Katherine G. Abraham

    (University of Maryland)

  • Susan N. Houseman

    ()

    (W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research)

We compare older workers' plans for work and retirement with their subsequent work and retirement outcomes using panel data from the Health and Retirement Study. Among those with retirement plans, about half indicate they would like to cut back on their work hours or otherwise change the type of work they do prior to, or instead of, fully retiring. Yet, the fraction that follows through on these alternative plans is dramatically lower than the fraction that realizes plans to stop working. Our analysis shows that individuals who likely would need to change jobs in order to reduce their work hours are much less likely to have plans to reduce hours and, conditional on having such plans, are much less likely to follow through on them. Instead, a large fraction of these individuals stop working entirely. Our findings suggest that older workers may face substantial barriers to job change, and we conclude with a discussion of potential policy implications.

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Paper provided by W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in its series Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles with number 04-105.

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Date of creation: Jul 2004
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Handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:04-105
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  1. Kathryn Anderson & Richard V. Burkhauser & Joseph F. Quinn, 1986. "Do retirement dreams come true? The effect of unanticipated events on retirement plans," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 39(4), pages 518-526, July.
  2. 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.
  3. Blau, David M, 1994. "Labor Force Dynamics of Older Men," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(1), pages 117-56, January.
  4. Gary Burtless & Joseph F. Quinn, 2002. "Is Working Longer the Answer for an Aging Workforce?," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 550, Boston College Department of Economics.
  5. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2003. "Wealth Accumulation And The Propensity To Plan," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1007-1047, August.
  6. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1983. "Retirement Flows," NBER Working Papers 1069, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Joseph Altonji & Christina Paxson, 1990. "Labor Supply, Hours Constraints and Job Mobility," Working Papers 651, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  8. Hugo Benítez-Silva & Debra S. Dwyer, 2003. "What to Expect when you are Expecting Rationality: Testing Rational Expectations using Micro Data," Working Papers wp037, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  9. 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.
  10. Ruhm, Christopher J, 1990. "Bridge Jobs and Partial Retirement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(4), pages 482-501, October.
  11. Chan, Sewin & Stevens, Ann Huff, 2001. "Job Loss and Employment Patterns of Older Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 484-521, April.
  12. Joseph F. Quinn, 1999. "Has the Early Retirement Trend Reversed?," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 424, Boston College Department of Economics.
  13. Marjorie Honig & Giora Hanoch, 1985. "Partial Retirement as a Separate Mode of Retirement Behavior," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 20(1), pages 21-46.
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