The Welfare Cost of Retirement Uncertainty

Frank N. Caliendo, Maria Casanova, Aspen Gorry, Sita Slavov

NBER Working Paper No. 22609
Issued in September 2016, Revised in February 2017
NBER Program(s):Aging

Uncertainty about the timing of retirement is a major financial risk with implications for decision making and welfare over the life cycle. We estimate that the standard deviation of the difference between retirement expectations and actual retirement dates ranges from 4.28 to 6.92 years. We develop a quantitative model to assess the impact of this risk. Individuals would give up 2.6%-5.7% of total lifetime consumption to fully insure this risk and 1.9%-4.0% of lifetime consumption simply to know their actual retirement date at age 23. While social insurance programs could be designed to hedge this risk, current programs in the U.S. (OASI and SSDI) provide very little timing insurance.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22609

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