MRRC Director John Laitner previews 2017 key findings

The 2018 Winter Newsletter includes brief summaries of findings from a dozen new MRRC working papers. The projects illustrate two principal themes of our research effort: They make in-depth use of up-to-date data sources to test and quantify our understanding of household choices of when to retire and of well-being during retirement, and they attempt to use, and augment, the life-cycle model as an organizing conceptual framework for analysis.

In one example, Armour, WP 2017-373, uses the American Life Panel, a nationally representative internet panel survey.  The ALP provides an extensive set of baseline covariates, past information on respondent knowledge of his/her Social Security entitlements, and subsamples of those who have/do not have my Social Security accounts, and who have/have not received paper Social Security statements post 2014. He can measure, for example, the increase in knowledge of benefits that recipients of paper statements gain.

Hudomiet et al., WP 2017-372, present a second interesting illustration. The authors use the Health and Retirement Study, now linked to the O*NET database of occupational job demands. With the rich covariates and panel data structure of the HRS and the linked O*NET job specifications, the authors can assess the effect of various physical and mental demands of different occupations on retirement ages. As people live longer, their options for longer careers may well become an ever more important element in their retirement planning and well-being.

Laitner and Silverman, WP 2017-363, to take a final example, emphasize life-cycle modeling, as well as estimation. The model examines couples. Households make year-by-year decisions of how much to save and consume, and one-time retirement decisions. The paper finds the global maximizing retirement age. And, it incorporates preferences that allow consumption to either rise or fall after retirement. The estimation uses retirement and wealth data from the HRS, restricted data on lifetime earnings for the same sample, and Consumer Expenditure Survey data on household consumption at different ages. In the end, it shows that policy proposals for age-dependent taxation could encourage noticeably longer careers.

Read the key findings for 2017 MRRC working papers in the latest newsletter.