Friday, June 19, 2015

New papers from the Social Science Research Network

CRAIG COPELAND, Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)
The U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) is a primary source of income data for those whose ages are associated with being retired. In response to research showing that the survey has misclassified and underreported certain types of income, the 2014 CPS included a redesigned set of questions aimed at better capturing income from individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401(k)-type plans, among other goals. This paper provides a comparison of the income levels from the redesigned questions with those from the traditional questions. The focus in this paper is on the income of those ages 65 or older and on the income categories associated with retiree income to see the impact of the changes in the questions on sources of income in retirement. Particular emphasis is given to the income from individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401(k)-type plans, as this appears to be the income type with the most underreporting, given the lump-sum nature of the payments typically found from these plans, instead of regular annuity payments traditionally received from pensions. This analysis finds the new measure of income in the CPS identifies significantly more income (and a much larger percentage of income) coming from IRAs and 401(k)-type plans. Compared with the estimated amount under the traditional-income questions for 2013, the redesigned questions have resulted in an estimated total annual income 9.1 percent larger for those ages 65 or older, an aggregate amount of almost an additional $133 billion. Retirement income is 27.9 percent larger, an aggregate difference of almost $71 billion. However, Social Security remains the overwhelmingly predominant source of income for those ages 65 or older. The redesigned CPS still finds that over 60 percent of individuals in the two lowest-income quartiles receive more than 90 percent of their total income from Social Security.

BEN J. HEIJDRA, University of Groningen - Department of Economics, CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute), Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS)
University of Groningen
The aim of this paper is to study the long-run effects of a longevity increase on individual decisions about education and retirement, taking macroeconomic repercussions through endogenous factor prices and the pension system into account. We build a model of a closed economy inhabited by overlapping generations of finitely-lived individuals whose labour productivity depends on their age through the build-up of labour market experience and the depreciation of human capital. We make two contributions to the literature on the macroeconomics of population ageing. First we show that it is important to recognize that a longer life need not imply a more productive life and that this matters for the affordability of an unfunded pension system. Second, we find that factor prices could move in a direction opposite to the one accepted as conventional wisdom following an increase in longevity, depending on the corresponding change in the age-productivity profile.

CHRISTOPHER R. TAMBORINI, U.S. Social Security Administration
U.S. Social Security Administration
There are increasing concerns about whether Americans are saving enough for retirement. Recent research has called for improved understanding of the relationship between family structure and economic preparation for retirement at earlier stages of the life course. Using multiple years of the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances, we examined how number of children and marital status were associated with women’s household retirement savings at young and mid-adulthood. Several household-level indicators of retirement preparation were considered: desire to save for retirement, retirement account ownership, eligibility to participate in a defined-contribution plan, participation in defined-contribution plans, and retirement account wealth. Results from regression analyses revealed variation in women’s household financial preparation for retirement at young and mid-adulthood by family context. Additional children were negatively associated with several measures of retirement preparation among single-female households but not for couple households. Overall, we found that low economic preparation for retirement is an additional economic disadvantage facing single mothers at young and mid-adulthood, with potentially long-term implications for their financial security. The results shed light on linkages between family structure and women’s economic status. 

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