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Policy Briefs offer summary and analysis of current issues in Social Security, retirement and pension policy.

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Research Briefs offer concise summaries of key research findings from MRRC projects.

In the Researcher Q&A series our affiliated researchers discuss the findings and implications of their MRRC-supported research.

Conference Papers from the Annual Meeting of the Retirement Research Consortium are available for all presentations.

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All Publications


Public Pension Design and Household Retirement Decisions: A Comparison of the United States and Germany

WP 2021-417 , UM19-13
Social Security provides retirement benefits to age-eligible workers and their spouses. Benefits are permanently increased if initial receipt is delayed. For benefits paid to spouses, these incentives reflect a complex interaction of the worker’s and spouse’s earnings histories, benefit claiming…

The Causes and Consequences of Opioid Use among Older Americans: A Panel Survey Approach

WP 2021-419 , UM20-14
This study examines the effects of prescription opioid analgesic use for older Americans, specifically with regard to work disability and disability program participation. We draw on the long-panel structure of the Health and Retirement Study and a newly available 2009…

Underfunded Public Sector Pension Plans, Social Security Participation, and the Retirement Decisions of Public Employees

WP 2021-420 , UM20-05
I analyze the effects of public pension parameters, Social Security coverage, and state pension fund sustainability on the retirement of public employees. I use data from the Health and Retirement Study, including personal early and normal retirement eligibility and state…

Is the Adjustment of Social Security Benefits Actuarially Fair, and If So, for Whom?

Disparities in Social Security claim ages have risen since the early 1990s. With high earners increasingly likely to delay claiming, and also living longer on average than lower earners, late claimants may differ in critical ways from early claimants. Using…


Estimating the Macroeconomic Effects of Each Totalization Agreement

WP 2020-408 , UM20-07
Totalization agreements coordinate the United States Social Security program with other countries’ comparable programs. We estimate each totalization agreement’s impact on a variety of bilateral trade outcomes. We find the impact is quite heterogeneous, both across agreements/countries and across sectors…

The Risk of High Out-of-Pocket Health Spending among Older Americans

WP 2020-409 , UM20-09
Traditional Medicare imposes significant cost-sharing on beneficiaries. Most but not all beneficiaries obtain supplemental insurance through Medigap, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, or employer-sponsored retiree coverage, which may vary in how well they protect against the risk of high spending. This paper…

A Framework for Cost-Benefit Analysis of Totalization Agreements

WP 2020-410 , UM20-08
International social security totalization agreements eliminate double social security taxation for workers who reside and work in different country from their home country. Because totalization agreements affect a number of economic agents in a variety of ways, we develop a…

Cognitive Ability, Cognitive Aging, and Debt Accumulation

WP 2020-411 , UM20-11
In the past few decades, financial products target to consumers have become increasingly complex and recent evidence suggests that older adults are entering retirement with more debt than previous generations. We examine how cognitive ability is related to debt burdens…

The Impact of Growing Health and Mortality Inequalities on Lifetime Social Security Payouts

WP 2020-412 , UM20-04
The prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and other health problems has increased in recent decades in the United States, and there is a growing gap between the health and longevity of individuals with high socioeconomic status (SES) and low SES. These…
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