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50 is the new 30: Long-run trends of schooling and retirement explained by human aging

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  • Strulik, Holger
  • Werner, Katharina

Abstract

Workers in the US and other developed countries retire no later than a century ago and spend a significantly longer part of their life in school, implying that they stay less years in the work force. The facts of longer schooling and simultaneously shorter working life are seemingly hard to square with the rationality of the standard economic life cycle model. In this paper we propose a novel theory, based on health and aging, that explains these long-run trends. Workers optimally respond to a longer stay in a healthy state of high productivity by obtaining more education and supplying less labor. Better health increases productivity and amplifies the return on education. The health accelerator allows workers to finance educational efforts with less forgone labor supply than in the previous state of shorter healthy life expectancy. When both life-span and healthy life expectancy increase, the health effect is dominating and the working life gets shorter if the preference for leisure is sufficiently strong or the return on education is sufficiently large. We calibrate an extended version of the model and show that it is capable to predict the historical trends of schooling and retirement.

Suggested Citation

  • Strulik, Holger & Werner, Katharina, 2013. "50 is the new 30: Long-run trends of schooling and retirement explained by human aging," University of Göttingen Working Papers in Economics 152, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:cegedp:152
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    3. Strulik, Holger, 2019. "Myopic Misery: Maternal Depression, Child Investments, And The Neurobiological Poverty Trap," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(2), pages 522-534, March.
    4. Kotschy, Rainer, 2022. "Health improvements impact income inequality," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 22(C).
    5. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Holger Strulik, 2017. "The Genesis of the Golden Age: Accounting for the Rise in Health and Leisure," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 24, pages 132-151, March.
    6. Annarita Baldanzi & Klaus Prettner & Paul Tscheuschner, 2019. "Longevity-induced vertical innovation and the tradeoff between life and growth," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 32(4), pages 1293-1313, October.
    7. Strulik, Holger, 2015. "Frailty, mortality, and the demand for medical care," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 6(C), pages 5-12.
    8. Strulik, Holger, 2018. "The return to education in terms of wealth and health," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 12(C), pages 1-14.
    9. Kotschy, Rainer, 2021. "Health dynamics shape life-cycle incomes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C).
    10. Strulik, Holger & Werner, Katharina, 2014. "Elite education, mass education, and the transition to modern growth," University of Göttingen Working Papers in Economics 205, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    11. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Hansen, Casper Worm & Strulik, Holger, 2018. "Physiological Aging around the World and Economic Growth," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 375, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    12. Abeliansky, Ana Lucia & Erel, Devin & Strulik, Holger, 2019. "Aging in the USA: Similarities and disparities across time and space," University of Göttingen Working Papers in Economics 384, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    13. Casper Worm Hansen & Holger Strulik, 2017. "Life expectancy and education: evidence from the cardiovascular revolution," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 421-450, December.
    14. Volker Grossmann, 2021. "Medical Innovations and Ageing: A Health Economics Perspective," CESifo Working Paper Series 9387, CESifo.
    15. Hirazawa, Makoto & Yakita, Akira, 2017. "Labor supply of elderly people, fertility, and economic development," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 75-96.
    16. C. Dannemann & Erkan Goeren, 2018. "The Educational Burden of ADHD: Evidence From Student Achievement Test Scores," Working Papers V-408-18, University of Oldenburg, Department of Economics, revised Apr 2018.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    healthy life expectancy; longevity; education; retirement; labor supply; compression of morbidity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E20 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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