Back to Work: Trends in Post-Retirement Employment

Published: 2003
Project ID: UM03-15


Retirement is often modeled as an absorbing state. But in fact, many people return to paid work after they retire—that is, they unretire. Despite an extensive literature on retirement behavior, little is known about unretirement. An individual might go back to work out of economic necessity or for non-pecuniary reasons. For example, people might return to work in order to maintain consumption if they suffer financial shocks or if they failed to plan well. Others might return to work simply because they do not enjoy retirement as much as they expected. From the standpoint of policy interest, whether unretirement is beneficial or detrimental for retirees depends on why people go back to work. In this project, I propose to establish a basic understanding of post-retirement labor supply. I will use the HRS to evaluate how common unretirement is and explore what specific features of the household economic environment are correlated with unretirement. In addition, I will document trends over time using successive panels of the SIPP.



Nicole Maestas