Teaching, Teachers’ Pensions, and Retirement across Recent Cohorts of College-Graduate Women
Labor force participation rates of college-educated women ages 60 to 64 increased by 20 percent (10 percentage points) between 2000 and 2010. One potential explanation for this change stems from the fact that fewer college-educated women in the more recent cohorts were ever teachers. This occupational shift could affect the length of women’s careers because teaching is a profession where workers are covered by defined benefit pensions and, generally, defined benefit pensions allow workers to retire earlier than Social Security. I provide evidence supporting the hypothesis and show that older college-educated women who worked as teachers do not experience increases in labor force participation as large as their counterparts who never taught.
Thanks to Claudia Goldin and Larry Katz for the invitation to explore these issues in collaboration with the other pre-conference participants and for their comments. Thanks, too, to Melinda Sandler Morrill and the other conference participants for their helpful comments. Research support was provided by the Sloan Foundation. I am also grateful to Corbin Miller for excellent research assistance and help with the public-use and RAND-created versions of the Health and Retirement Study and to Mohan Ramanujan for help with the restricted-use version of the Health and Retirement Study.