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Projecting behavioral responses to the next generation of retirement policies

Work, Earnings and Other Aspects of the Employment Relation

ISBN: 978-0-7623-1397-6, eISBN: 978-1-84950-552-9

ISSN: 0147-9121

Publication date: 1 October 2008


Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, we examine behavioral responses to a new generation of retirement policies that on average are actuarially neutral. Although many conventional models predict that actuarially neutral policies will not affect retirement behavior, our model allows those with high-time preference rates to find that the promise of an actuarially fair increase in future rewards does not balance the loss from foregone current benefits. Thus together with liquidity constraints facing those with high-time preference, we find that actuarially neutral policies do affect retirement behavior. One such policy follows on the elimination of the Social Security earnings test for those over normal retirement age, and would eliminate the earnings test between early and normal retirement age. Another of these policies would increase the ages of benefit entitlement. Still another such policy emerges from a central focus of the past few years on the adoption of personal accounts. Although Social Security benefits are currently paid in the form of an annuity, benefits from either defined benefit plans or from personal accounts may be made available as an annuity or as a lump sum of equivalent actuarial value. A related policy choice between actuarially equivalent benefits emerges on the pension side. There has been discussion of relaxing the current IRS prohibition against paying a pension benefit when a person remains at work, instead allowing partial pension benefits to be paid to those who partially retire on a job.


Gustman, A.L. and Steinmeier, T.L. (2008), "Projecting behavioral responses to the next generation of retirement policies", Polachek, S.W. and Tatsiramos, K. (Ed.) Work, Earnings and Other Aspects of the Employment Relation (Research in Labor Economics, Vol. 28), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 141-195.



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