Abstract: This is the introduction and summary to the seventh phase of an ongoing project on Social Security Programs and Retirement Around the World. The project compares the experiences of a dozen developed countries and uses differences in their retirement program provisions to explore the effect of SS on retirement and related questions. The first three phases of this project document that: 1) incentives for retirement from SS are strongly correlated with labor force participation rates across countries; 2) within countries, workers with stronger incentives to delay retirement are more likely to do so; and 3) changes to SS could have substantial effects on labor force participation and government finances. The fourth volume explores whether higher employment among older persons might increase youth unemployment and finds no link between the two. The fifth and sixth volumes focus on the disability insurance (DI) program, finding that changes in DI participation are more closely linked to DI reforms than to changes in health and that reducing access to DI would raise labor supply.
This seventh phase of the project explores whether older people are healthy enough to work longer. We use two main methods to estimate the health capacity to work, asking how much older individuals today could work if they worked as much as those with the same mortality rate in the past or as younger individuals in similar health. Both methods suggest there is significant additional health capacity to work at older ages.NBER Working Paper No. 21939, January, 2016: Abstract/Paper.
Abstract: We study the health-capacity to work among older workers in Canada. We estimate work capacity using two methods. The first uses age-specific mortality rates to proxy for overall health, comparing employment rates at similar levels of mortality. The second method uses a mix of health measures to estimate a health-employment relationship at ages 50 to 54, then uses these estimates to project the employment capacity of older workers. Our results suggest a substantial unused capacity for work among older Canadians.Pre-publication draft, July, 2015: PDF.
Abstract: Public programs that benefit older individuals, such as Social Security and Medicare, may be changed in the future in ways that reflect an expectation of longer work lives. But do older Americans have the health capacity to work longer? This paper explores this question by asking how much older individuals could work if they worked as much as those with the same mortality rate in the past or as much as their younger counterparts in similar health. Using both methods, we estimate that there is significant additional capacity to work at older ages. We also explore whether there are differences in health capacity across education groups and whether health has improved more over time for the highly educated, using education quartiles to surmount the challenge of changing levels of education over time.NBER Working Paper No. 21940, January, 2016: Abstract/Paper.