NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Agricultural Decline and the Secular Rise in Male Retirement Rates

Dora L. Costa

NBER Historical Working Paper No. 55
Issued in April 1994
NBER Program(s):   DAE

Explanations for the decline in labor force participation rates of older men prior to 1950 have focused on the sectoral shift from agriculture to manufacturing. Labor force participation rates of men living in farm households have been consistently higher than those of men living in non-farm households. The decline in the size of the agricultural sector has coincided with the rise in male retirement rates. Using a new, longitudinal data set I argue that, at the beginning of the twentieth century, men who were farmers were no less likely to retire than men who were not farmers. Past researchers, who examined cross-sectional data, were misled because retired farmers often migrated from their farms. The findings have implications for the secular decline of fertility.

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Published: Explorations in Economic History, October 1995, Volume 32, Number 4, pp. 54 0-522

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