Collateral effects of a pension reform in France
How does the retirement age affect the physical and mental health of seniors? We identify this effect based on the 1993 reform of the French pension system, which was heterogeneously introduced among the population. The French government gradually increased the incentive to work using two tools: the contribution period required for entitlement to a full pension and the number of reference earning years taken to calculate pensions. This created heterogeneity of incentives to work among the population. We use a unique database on health and employment in France in 1999 and 2005, when the cohorts affected by the reform started to retire. Taking the reform as a tool to filter out the potential influence of health on employment choices, we show that retirement improves physical and social health. The more physically impacted are the low-educated individuals. Subsequently, a difference-indifferences approach among the working population, with the control group comprising public sector employees (not concerned by the 1993 reform), finds that the people more affected by the reform, and hence with a stronger incentive to work, were those posting less of an improvement and even a deterioration in their health between 1999 and 2005.
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