Delaying Retirement to Pay for College

Posted: 17 Oct 2011

Date Written: October 1, 2011


Does sending children to college affect the contemporaneous labor supply of older workers? Drawing on biennial waves of the Health and Retirement Survey from 1992-2006, the author tracks the labor supply of parents before and after they send their children to college and shows that parents delay retirement while they are financing their children's college education. Controlling for the total number of children who ever attend college and the total number of those whose college expenses are paid for by older parents, she finds that mothers and fathers are more likely to be working (by 10.5 percentage points for fathers and by 6.9 percentage points for mothers), less likely to be collecting Social Security benefits, and less likely to report that they are retired if they are currently paying for a child's college education. Of those working, there is little evidence that paying for a child's education has any impact on work intensity.

Keywords: Retirement, Costs of Children, Education Finance

JEL Classification: J26, I22, J13, J14

Suggested Citation

Handwerker, Elizabeth Weber, Delaying Retirement to Pay for College (October 1, 2011). Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 64, No. 5, 2011. Available at SSRN:

Elizabeth Weber Handwerker (Contact Author)

Bureau of Labor Statistics ( email )

2 Massachusetts Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20212
United States


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