The Dynamic Effects of Health on the Labor Force Transitions of Older Workers

John Bound, Michael Schoenbaum, Todd R. Stinebrickner, Timothy Waidmann

NBER Working Paper No. 6777
Issued in November 1998
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies, Aging

This paper addresses the interplay between health and labor market behavior in the later part of the working life. We use the longitudinal Health and Retirement Survey to analyze the dynamic relationship between health and alternative labor force transitions, including labor force exit, job change and application for disability insurance. Specifically, we examine how the timing of health shocks affects labor force behavior. Controlling for lagged values of health, poor contemporaneous health is strongly associated with labor force exit in general and with application for disability insurance in particular. At the same time, our evidence suggests that controlling for contemporaneous health, poor lagged health is associated with continued participation. Thus, it appears that not just poor health, but declines in health help explain retirement behavior. We conclude that modeling health in a dynamic, longitudinal framework offers important new insights into the effects of poor health on the labor force behavior of older workers.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w6777

Published: Labour Economics, Vol. 6, no. 2 (June 1999): 179-202 citation courtesy of

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