Saving and Wealth Accumulation among Student Loan Borrowers: Implications for Retirement Preparedness
Borrowing for education has increased rapidly in the past several decades, such that the majority of non-housing debt on US households' balance sheets is now student loan debt. This chapter analyzes the implications of student loan borrowing for later-life economic well-being, with a focus on retirement preparation. We demonstrate that families holding student loan debt later in life have less savings than their similarly educated peers without such debt. However, these comparisons are misleading if the goal is to characterize the experience of the typical student borrower, as they fail to ...
Population aging, labor demand, and the structure of wages
One consequence of demographic change is substantial shifts in the age distribution of the working-age population. As the baby boom generation ages, the usual historical pattern of a high ratio of younger workers relative to older workers has been replaced by a pattern of roughly equal percentages of workers of different ages. One might expect that the increasing relative supply of older workers would lower the wage premium paid for older, more experienced workers. This paper provides strong empirical support for this hypothesis. Econometric estimates imply that the size of one?s birth cohort ...
Labor Force Transitions at Older Ages : Burnout, Recovery, and Reverse Retirement
Partial and reverse retirement are two key behaviors characterizing labor force dynamics for individuals at older ages, with half working part-time and over a third leaving and later re-entering the labor force. The high rate of exit and re-entry is especially surprising given the declining wage profile at older ages and opportunities for re-entry in the future being uncertain. In this paper we study the effects of wage and health transition processes as well as the role of accrues work-related strain on the labor force participation on older males. We find that a model incorporating a work ...
Saving for Retirement with Job Loss Risk
This article studies a tractable theoretical model of optimal consumption and saving decisions with endogenous retirement. Particular attention is paid to the impact of an increase in the risk of losing one?s job on the optimal path of consumption and wealth accumulation. Even if one does not actually lose their job, an increase in the risk of a job loss is by itself sufficient to cause lower consumption, higher saving, and, through faster retirement, lower labor supply.
How Do Local Labor Markets Affect Retirement?
Compared with prime-age workers, older workers face an easier path out of the labor force if they lose their jobs during a recession. However, premature job exits or earnings losses in the years leading up to retirement may be particularly devastating to retirement savings. The authors analyze the impact of recent business cycles on retirement using multifaceted job transitions of older workers. They focus on local labor markets because older workers are particularly unlikely to move for work. Surprisingly, the biggest effect of a higher local unemployment rate on older workers is to raise ...
The Value and Risk of Human Capital
Human capital embodies the knowledge, skills, health and values that contribute to making people productive. These qualities, however, are hard to measure, and quantitative studies of human capital are typically based on the valuation of the lifetime income that a person generates in the labor market. This article surveys the theoretical and empirical literature that models a worker?s life-cycle earnings and identifies appropriate discount rates to translate those cash flows into a certainty equivalent of wealth. This paper begins with an overview of a stylized model of human capital ...
Medical Expenses and Saving in Retirement: The Case of U.S. and Sweden
Many U.S. households have significant wealth late in life, contrary to the predictions of a simple life-cycle model. In this paper, we document stark differences between U.S. and Sweden regarding out-of-pocket medical and long-term-care expenses late in life, and use them to investigate their role in discouraging the elderly from dissaving. Using a consumption-saving model in retirement with significant uninsurable expense risk, we find that medical expense risk accounts for a quarter of the U.S.-Sweden difference in retirees' dissaving patterns. Furthermore, medical expense risk affects ...
Flexible Retirement and Optimal Taxation
This paper studies optimal insurance against private idiosyncratic shocks in a life-cycle model with intensive labor supply and endogenous retirement. In this environment, the optimal labor tax is hump-shaped in age: insurance benefits of taxation push for increasing-in-age taxes while rising labor supply elasticities and optimal late retirement of highly productive workers push for lowering taxes for old workers. In calibrated numerical simulations, the optimum achieves sizable welfare gains that age-dependent taxes do not deliver under the status quo US Social Security. Nevertheless, an ...
Breaking the Implicit Contract: Using Pension Freezes to Study Lifetime Labor Supply
This paper studies the elimination of traditional pensions and subsequent adoption of 401(k) plans by U.S. employers. Using thousands of firm-level natural experiments, it shows that unexpected losses in future compensation engendered by pension plan transitions induce premature retirement for some workers and delayed retirement for others. Observed heterogeneity in retirement behavior is indicative of differences in wealth and in preferences for leisure. Using credibly identified treatment effects as estimation targets, it fits a structural model of retirement and uses the model to evaluate ...
Home Equity in Retirement
Retired homeowners dissave more slowly than renters, which suggests that homeownership a?ects retirees? saving decisions. We investigate empirically and theoretically the life-cycle patterns of homeownership, housing and nonhousing assets in retirement. Using an estimated structural model of saving and housing decisions, we ?nd, ?rst, that homeowners dissave slowly because they prefer to stay in their house as long as possible but cannot easily borrow against it. Second, the 1996-2006 housing boom signi?cantly increased homeowners? assets. These channels are quantitatively signi?cant; without ...