Retirement Incentives and Behavior of Private and Public Sector Workers
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Over the past several decades, private sector workers in the USA with employed-sponsored pensions have experienced a dramatic shift from defined benefit (DB) to defined contribution plans, while this trend has been less pronounced for public sector workers. In this paper, we use data from the Health and Retirement Study to explore changes in the retirement incentives and retirement behavior of public and private sector workers over the past quarter-century. We find that both groups have become less likely to report having a DB pension or any pension. Compared to their private sector counterparts, public sector workers have a higher level of retirement wealth and a larger financial gain from continued work at older ages, and these differences by sector are growing across cohorts. Both groups respond to financial incentives in making retirement decisions. However, growing differences by sector in the gain to continued work do not appear to have translated into diverging retirement behavior, as we observe similar trends in the two groups.