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Retiree Health Benefits as Deferred Compensation: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study

Author

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  • James Marton

    () (Georgia State University)

  • Stephen A. Woodbury

    () (Michigan State University and W.E. Upjohn Institute)

Abstract

Are early retiree health benefits (RHBs) a form of deferred compensation that binds workers to an employer? Most employers who offer RHBs offer them only to workers who have 10 or more years of tenure with the firm and have reached age 55. Accordingly, workers in firms offering RHBs have an incentive to stay with a firm in the years before they attain eligibility for RHBs, and a greater incentive than otherwise to retire thereafter. We test for the existence of such a pattern of incentives by examining the age-specific relationship between workers’ eligibility for RHBs and retirement. The findings suggest that workers in RHB-offering firms are less likely to retire at ages 50 and 51 than similar workers in firms that do not offer RHBs. Also, RHB-eligible workers aged 60 and 61 are more likely to retire than similar RHB-ineligible workers. Such a pattern is consistent with RHBs acting as part of a delayed-payment contract of the kind described by Lazear (1979, 1981).

Suggested Citation

  • James Marton & Stephen A. Woodbury, 2012. "Retiree Health Benefits as Deferred Compensation: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 12-182, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:12-182
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Shoven, John B. & Slavov, Sita Nataraj, 2014. "The role of retiree health insurance in the early retirement of public sector employees," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 99-108.
    2. Joshua Congdon-Hohman, 2014. "Retirement Reversals and Health Insurance: the Potential Impact of the Affordable Care Act," Working Papers 1501, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.
    3. Fitzpatrick, Maria D., 2014. "Retiree health insurance for public school employees: Does it affect retirement?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 88-98.
    4. Nyce, Steven & Schieber, Sylvester J. & Shoven, John B. & Slavov, Sita Nataraj & Wise, David A., 2013. "Does retiree health insurance encourage early retirement?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 40-51.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Tax Subsidies; Health Insurance; Retirement; Employee Benefits; Deferred Compensation; Compensation Methods;

    JEL classification:

    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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