Does Retirement Make You Happy? A Simultaneous Equations Approach
Continued improvements in life expectancy and fiscal insolvency of public pensions have led to increased pension entitlement ages in several countries, but its consequences for subjective well-being are largely unknown.
Financial consequences of retirement complicate the estimation of effects of retirement on well-being as financial circumstances may influence well-being, so the effects of retirement may be confounded by income changes. Also, unobservable determinants of income are probably related with unobservable determinants of well-being, making income possibly endogenous if used as control in well-being regressions. To address these issues, we estimate a simultaneous model of retirement, income, and subjective well-being while accounting for time effects and unobserved individual effects. Public pension arrangements (replacement rates, eligibility rules for early and full retirement) serve as instrumental variables. We use data from HRS and SHARE from 2004 to 2010.
We find that depressive symptoms are negatively related to retirement while life satisfaction is positively related. Remarkably, income does not seem to affect depression or life satisfaction. This contrasts with correlations in the raw data showing significant relations between income and depression and life satisfaction. This suggests that accounting for the endogeneity of income in equations explaining depression or life satisfaction is important.
The research reported herein was pursuant to a grant from the U.S. Social Security
Administration (SSA), funded as part of the Michigan Retirement Research Consortium (RRC).
The findings and conclusions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not represent the
views of SSA, or any agency of the federal government. The authors also acknowledge support by the National Institute on Aging under grant 2P01AG022481 and 2R01 AG030153. This
research is also part of the program of the Industrial Alliance Research Chair on the Economics of Demographic Change. We thank Anne Case and participants in the NBER Conference on the Economics of Aging (The Boulders, Arizona, 2015) for helpful comments.
This research was funded by the National Institute on Aging under grant 5P01AG008291