2019 RDRC Meeting: Public Pension Design and Household Retirement Decisions: Cross-national Comparisons

Published: 2019


This ongoing project aims to document responsiveness in a number of countries to social security program incentives for household labor force participation, with a particular focus on spouse and survivor benefits. In the United States, Social Security benefits in a married household are dependent on both the primary and secondary earners’ work history. This design has implications for each household member’s incentives to work. Countries in the global family of Health and Retirement Studies differ in how they approach benefits for spouses and survivors. Using data consistently collected across surveys, we develop harmonized measures for retirement incentives based on own, spouse, and survivor benefit entitlements and will estimate their relationship with continued work. Understanding present day responsiveness to incentives embedded in Social Security’s benefit structure is a critical step toward determining the implications of retirement reforms for cost and retirement behavior.

Key Findings