References (92)


Citations (2)



The Labor Supply of Older Americans

Alicia H. Munnell

Boston College - Center for Retirement Research

Steven A. Sass

Boston College - Center for Retirement Research

June 2007

This paper summarizes what is known about the labor supply of older men, defined as those 55 and over. The topic is of great interest because older individuals will comprise a much greater portion of the population, so their labor supply will have a significant impact on national output, tax revenues, and the cost of means-tested programs. Most importantly, a greater proportion of older individuals will need to work than do at present, because retirement income systems are contracting and working longer is the only way for most to ensure financial security in their old age. The focus is on men, because women's work patterns reflect the increasing participation of cohorts over time as well as the factors that affect retirement behavior.

Section I of this paper describes the changes to the retirement income system that will require people to work longer. Section II summarizes the long-term decline in labor force activity among older individuals and the factors that contributed to that trend. Section III describes the recent turnaround in the labor force activity of older people and the changes in Social Security and pensions that likely led to that reversal. In an attempt to determine whether the labor supply of older workers will continue to increase, Section IV describes changes in work patterns that have emerged in the last 20 years, leading to more mobility and less tenure among older workers and the implications of such changes on labor supply. Section V addresses the issue of health to ascertain the extent to which older people can be expected to continue in the labor force, noting that for 15 to 20 percent of the work force continued employment will be impossible. Section VI discusses the remaining incentives to retire - namely, the availability of Social Security at 62 and the lack of flexible employment arrangements. Section VII concludes.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 57

Open PDF in Browser Download This Paper

Date posted: November 15, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Munnell, Alicia H. and Sass, Steven A., The Labor Supply of Older Americans (June 2007). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1299168 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1299168

Contact Information

Alicia Munnell (Contact Author)
Boston College - Center for Retirement Research ( email )
Fulton Hall 550
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States
617-552-1762 (Phone)
Steven A. Sass
Boston College - Center for Retirement Research ( email )
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States
Feedback to SSRN

Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 362
Downloads: 56
Download Rank: 280,134
References:  92
Citations:  2

© 2016 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollobot1 in 0.219 seconds