Social Security Programs and Retirement Around the World: Working Longer – Introduction and Summary
This is the introduction and summary to the eighth phase of an ongoing project on Social Security Programs and Retirement Around the World. This project, which compares the experiences of a dozen developed countries, was launched in the mid 1990s following decades of decline in the labor force participation rate of older men. The first several phases of the project document that social security program provisions can create powerful incentives for retirement that are strongly correlated with the labor force behavior of older workers. Subsequent phases of the project have explored disability program provisions and their effects on retirement as well as potential obstacles to promoting work at older ages, including whether there is a link between older employment and youth unemployment and whether older individuals are healthy enough to work longer.
In the two decades since the project began, the dramatic decline in men’s labor force participation has ended and been replaced by sharply rising participation rates. Older women’s participation has been rising as well. In this eighth phase of the project, we explore this phenomenon of working longer. We document trends in participation and employment and also consider factors that may help to explain these changes in behavior. We conclude that social security reforms as well as other factors such as the movement of women into the labor force have likely played an important role.