Saving Shortfalls and Delayed Retirement

Published: 2005


Prior research has suggested that many older Americans have not saved enough to maintain consumption levels in old age. One way older persons might respond to inadequate savings would be to extend their worklives by delaying retirement. This paper examines evidence on this matter using the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative panel survey of people age 51-61 in 1992 followed for several years in a panel. We use the data to project household retirement assets and to determine how much more saving would be needed to preserve post-retirement consumption levels. Our research then examines the links between derived saving shortfall measures and delayed retirement patterns. Among nonmarried persons, there is evidence that larger shortfalls do produce delayed retirement, though the effect is not quantitatively large. For married couples, pre-retirement wealth shortfalls do not appear to be significantly associated with delayed retirement. Evidently couples have other means of handling saving shortfalls.

Key Findings