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The effects of employment uncertainty and wealth shocks on the labor supply and claiming behavior of older American workers
Benítez-Silva, Hugo; García-Pérez, J. Ignacio; Jiménez-Martín, Sergi
Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament d'Economia i Empresa
Unemployment rates in developed countries have recently reached levels not seenin a generation, and workers of all ages are facing increasing probabilities of losingtheir jobs and considerable losses in accumulated assets. These events likely increasethe reliance that most older workers will have on public social insurance programs,exactly at a time that public finances are suffering from a large drop in contributions.Our paper explicitly accounts for employment uncertainty and unexpectedwealth shocks, something that has been relatively overlooked in the literature, butthat has grown in importance in recent years. Using administrative and householdlevel data we empirically characterize a life-cycle model of retirement and claimingdecisions in terms of the employment, wage, health, and mortality uncertainty facedby individuals. Our benchmark model explains with great accuracy the strikinglyhigh proportion of individuals who claim benefits exactly at the Early RetirementAge, while still explaining the increased claiming hazard at the Normal RetirementAge. We also discuss some policy experiments and their interplay with employmentuncertainty. Additionally, we analyze the effects of negative wealth shocks on thelabor supply and claiming decisions of older Americans. Our results can explainwhy early claiming has remained very high in the last years even as the early retirementpenalties have increased substantially compared with previous periods, andwhy labor force participation has remained quite high for older workers even in themidst of the worse employment crisis in decades.
Labour, Public, Development and Health Economics
Statistics, Econometrics and Quantitative Methods
employment uncertainty
wealth shocks
labor supply
life-cycle models
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