New RDRC Projects to Examine COVID-19 Effects on Retirement and Social Security


The NBER RDRC is pleased to announce two new projects, funded through the Social Security Administration's Retirement and Disability Research Consortium, that will explore some of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Economic Disruption and Social Security Spillovers: Evidence from the COVID-19 Pandemic, researchers Gopi Shah Goda and Emilie Jackson will examine how SSDI applications and Social Security retirement claiming are likely to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, using high-frequency data on search behavior related to SSDI application and retirement claiming. The project also explores how job loss affects applications for disability insurance or early retirement benefits, as well as how program spillovers may change the longer-term trajectory of economic recovery and vary as a function of unemployment insurance generosity or local initiatives. The researchers will identify these effects by making use of variation in the scope and timing of the labor market shocks brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic that caused many, especially those unable to work remotely, to lose their jobs.

In COVID-19 and Labor Force Exits among the Elderly and Near-Elderly across the States, researchers Lauren Hersch Nicholas and Sarah See Stith analyze the short-term changes in labor supply, unemployment, and self-reported retirement among older adults in the months before and since the beginning of COVID-19. The project also examines how varying state policies and characteristics including stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, closure of essential businesses, paid sick leave, and extended unemployment benefits affect older adult labor supply in the months following the start of COVID-19, using information on hospitalizations and deaths to measure geographic and temporal variation in the COVID-19 health shocks.