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Health Capacity to Work at Older Ages: Evidence from the United States

Courtney Coile, Kevin Milligan, David A. Wise

Chapter in NBER book Social Security Programs and Retirement around the World: The Capacity to Work at Older Ages (2017), David A. Wise, editor (p. 359 - 394)
Published in May 2017 by University of Chicago Press
© 2017 by the National Bureau of Economic Research
in NBER Book Series - International Social Security

Public programs that benefit older individuals, such as Social Security and Medicare, may be changed in the future in ways that reflect an expectation of longer work lives. But do older Americans have the health capacity to work longer? This paper explores this question by asking how much older individuals could work if they worked as much as those with the same mortality rate in the past or as much as their younger counterparts in similar health. Using both methods, we estimate that there is significant additional capacity to work at older ages. We also explore whether there are differences in health capacity across education groups and whether health has improved more over time for the highly educated, using education quartiles to surmount the challenge of changing levels of education over time.

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This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w21940, Health Capacity to Work at Older Ages: Evidence from the U.S., Courtney Coile, Kevin S. Milligan, David A. Wise
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