Online Program

Causal effects of retirement timing on subjective health and drinking behavior

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Esteban Calvo, PhD, MsPH, Public Policy Institute, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile
Natalia Sarkisian, PhD, Department of Sociology, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Christopher Tamborini, PhD, Office of Retirement Policy, U.S. Social Security Administration, Washington, DC
OBJECTIVE: This article explores the effects of the timing of retirement on subjective health and drinking behavior. Using panel data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), we test four theory-based hypotheses about these effects—that retirements maximize health outcomes and behaviors when they happen earlier, later, anytime, or on time. METHODS: We employ fixed and random effects regression models with instrumental variables to estimate the short- and long-term causal effects of retirement timing on self-reported health, depressive symptoms, and average number of drinks per day. RESULTS: Early retirements—those occurring prior to traditional and legal retirement age—dampen health outcomes and behaviors. DISCUSSION: Workers who begin their retirement transition before cultural and institutional timetables experience the worst health outcomes and behaviors; this finding offers partial support to the psychosocial-materialist approach that emphasizes the benefits of retiring later. Continued employment after traditionally expected retirement age, however, offers no health benefits. In combination, these findings offer some support for the cultural-institutional approach, but suggest that we need to modify our understanding of how cultural-institutional forces operate: Retiring too early can be problematic, but no disadvantages are associated with late retirements. Raising the retirement age, therefore, could potentially damage health outcomes and behaviors of retirees by expanding the group of those whose retirements would be considered early.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Assess the effects of retirement timing on subjective health and drinking behavior. Identify optimal retirement ages for specific cohorts within the United States. Discuss theoretical, policy, and practical implications. Explain the methodological advantages of instrumental variable regressions.

Keyword(s): Aging, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an Associate Professor of Public Policy at Universidad Diego Portales, Chile. I have also served as a consultant for the United Nations, Government of Chile, Harvard School of Public Health, and Center for Retirement Research. Much of my work aims to identify and understand the social factors that influence the health and happiness of older adults, and to evaluate policies that can improve their well-being.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.