NBER Working Papers by Carl Emmerson

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Working Papers

February 2014Effect of Pensions and Disability Benefits on Retirement in the UK
with James Banks, Gemma C. Tetlow: w19907
This paper examines to what extent differences in employment rates across those in better and worse health in the UK can be explained by the availability of publicly-funded disability insurance and the financial incentives provided by other retirement income schemes. Using an option value approach, we find that individuals’ labor force participation is affected by financial incentives. A one standard deviation change in the option value is estimated to reduce the likelihood of an individual leaving the labor market in the next year by between 2.7 and 3.1 percentage points, relative to an average exit probability of 9.4%. This suggests the variation in financial incentives across different individuals could explain a significant proportion of retirements. However, we find no evidence that i...
May 2011Disability, Health and Retirement in the United Kingdom
with James Banks, Richard Blundell, Antoine Bozio: w17049
Over the last thirty years pathways to retirement have changed substantially in the UK. They have been dominated by spells of unemployment in the late 1970s, with then an increased importance of disability spells from the mid-1980s onwards. At the end of the period the direct route from work to retirement was increasingly more common. General economic conditions seem to have been important driving forces during the entire period. In contrast changes in health do not seem to provide convincing explanations for these trends: mortality has been falling over the period without any apparent link to the share of the population reporting ill health or disability or to the number claiming benefits. We also find evidence that recent reforms have had some impact. The halting of the previous growth i...
March 2003Pension Reform and Economic Performance in Britain in the 1980s and 1990s
with Richard Disney, Sarah Smith: w9556
The late 1980s saw a major shift in pension provision in the United Kingdom, when for the first time individuals were permitted to opt out of part of the social security program into individual retirement saving accounts (Personal Pensions). At the same time, membership of company-provided pension plans (occupational schemes) was made voluntary. The paper explores the possible impact of these, and other related changes in social security in the 1980s and 1990s in the UK, on household saving rates, on current and future public finances, on retirement, and on the job mobility of individuals covered by company pension plans.
April 2001Differential Mortality in the UK
with Orazio P. Attanasio: w8241
In this paper we use the two waves of the British Retirement Survey (1988/89 and 1994) to quantify the relationship between socio-economic status and health outcomes. We find that, even after conditioning on the initial health status, wealth rankings are important determinants of mortality and the evolution of the health indicator in the survey. For men aged 65 moving from the 40th percentile to the 60th percentile in the wealth distribution increases the probability of survival by between 2.4 and 3.4 percentage points depending on the measure of wealth used. A slightly smaller effect is found for women of between 1.5 and 1.9 percentage points. In the process of estimating these effects we control for non-random attrition from our sample.

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