The Market Crash and Mass Layoffs: How the Current Economic Crisis May Affect Retirement

47 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2009 Last revised: 27 Jul 2010

See all articles by Courtney Coile

Courtney Coile

Wellesley College; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Phillip B. Levine

Wellesley College; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: October 2009

Abstract

Recent dramatic declines in U.S. stock and housing markets have led to widespread speculation that shrinking retirement accounts and falling home equity will lead workers to delay retirement. Yet the weakness in the labor market and its impact on retirement is often overlooked. If older job seekers have difficulty finding work, they may retire earlier than expected. The net effect of the current economic crisis on retirement is thus far from clear. In this paper, we use 30 years of data from the March Current Population Survey to estimate models relating retirement decisions to fluctuations in equity, housing, and labor markets. We find that workers age 62 to 69 are responsive to the unemployment rate and to long-run fluctuations in stock market returns. Less-educated workers are more sensitive to labor market conditions and more-educated workers are more sensitive to stock market conditions. We find no evidence that workers age 55 to 61 respond to these fluctuations or that workers at any age respond to fluctuating housing markets. On net, we predict that the increase in retirement attributable to the rising unemployment rate will be almost 50 percent larger than the decrease in retirement brought about by the stock market crash.

Suggested Citation

Coile, Courtney and Levine, Phillip B., The Market Crash and Mass Layoffs: How the Current Economic Crisis May Affect Retirement (October 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w15395. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1482113

Courtney Coile (Contact Author)

Wellesley College ( email )

106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02181
United States
781-283-2408 (Phone)
781-283-2177 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Phillip B. Levine

Wellesley College ( email )

106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02181
United States
781-283-2162 (Phone)
781-283-2177 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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