Tuesday, December 27, 2016

New papers from the NBER

“A Structural Analysis of the Effects of the Great Recession on Retirement and Working Longer by Members of Two-Earner Households”

by Alan L. Gustman, Thomas L. Steinmeier, Nahid Tabatabai -


This paper uses data from the Health and Retirement Study to estimate a structural model of household retirement and saving. It applies that model to analyze the effects of the Great Recession on the work and retirement of older couples who were both employed full-time at the beginning of the recession. We analyze the effects of job loss, changes in wealth and changes in expectations.

The largest overall effects of the Great Recession are observed for 2009 and 2010. In 2009, an additional 2.5 percent of all 55 to 59 year old husbands were not working full-time as result of the Great Recession, amounting to a reduction of 3.2 percent in full-time work. In 2010, 2.8 percent of 55 to 59 year old husbands were not working full-time as a result of the Great Recession, amounting to a 3.8 percent reduction in full-time work. For wives the reductions in full-time work due to the Great Recession were 1.7 percent and 2.2 percent of those who initially held a job, or reductions of full-time work of 2.3 and 3.0 percent respectively. For those 60 to 64, the reductions were 1.2 percent of men and 0.9 percent of women. Having been laid off in the last three years reduces full-time work by 30 percent.

There also are lingering effects of layoff on the probability of working longer. Having been laid off three or more years in the past reduces full-time employment in the current year by about 12 percent. This reflects the reduced work incentives for full-time work arising from lower earnings due to the loss of job tenure with a layoff as well as the additional earnings penalty from a layoff.

The effect on own work of a spouse having been laid off is much smaller. The reason is that, as found in the estimation of our structural model, having one spouse not working increases the value of leisure for the other. In contrast, when one member of the household loses their job, the value of consumption increases relative to leisure. For recent layoffs, these effects are roughly offsetting.

All told, the effects of the Great Recession on retirement seem relatively modest. These findings are consistent with our earlier descriptive analyses.


“The Hidden Resources of Women Working Longer: Evidence from Linked Survey-Administrative Data”

by C. Adam Bee, Joshua Mitchell - #22970 (AG LS PE)

Despite women’s increased labor force attachment over the lifecycle, household surveys such as the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC) do not show increases in retirement income (pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs) for women at older ages.

We use linked survey-administrative data to demonstrate that retirement incomes are considerably underreported in the CPS ASEC and that women’s economic progress at older ages has been substantially understated over the last quarter century. Specifically, the CPS ASEC shows median household income for women age 65-69 rose 21 percent since the late 1980s, while the administrative records show an increase of 58 percent. Survey biases in women’s own incomes appear largest for women with the longest work histories.

We also exploit the panel dimension of our data to follow a cohort of women and their spouses (if present) as they transition into retirement in recent years. In contrast to previous work, we find that most women do not experience noticeable drops in income up to five years after claiming social security, with retirement income playing an important role in maintaining their overall standard of living. Our results pose a challenge to the literature on the “retirement consumption puzzle” and suggest total income replacement rates are high for recent retirees.


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