Work ‘Til You Drop: Short- and Longer-Term Health Effects of Retirement in Europe

56 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2012 Last revised: 3 Oct 2012

See all articles by Gabriel Heller-Sahlgren

Gabriel Heller-Sahlgren

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE); Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Date Written: September 27, 2012

Abstract

Declining fertility rates and increasing life expectancy necessitate a higher labor participation rate among older people in order to sustain pension systems and boost economic growth. At the same time, researchers have only recently begun to pay attention to the health effects of a longer working life, with rather mixed results thus far. Utilizing panel data from eleven European countries, and two distinct identification strategies to deal with endogeneity, we provide new evidence of the health effects of retirement. In contrast to prior research, we analyze both the impact of being retired and the effect of spending longer time in retirement. Using spouses’ characteristics as instruments, while taking precautions to ensure validity, we find a robust, negative impact of being retired and spending longer time in retirement on self-assessed, general, mental and physical health. In addition, we show that the impact on self-assessed health remains similar in models using instruments from previous research while also including individual- and time-fixed effects to remove time-invariant unobserved heterogeneity between individuals as well as common health shocks. Overall, the results suggest that this innovation and the fact that we take lagged effects into account explain the differences in comparison to prior multi-country research using these instruments. While the short-term health impact of retirement in Europe remains uncertain, the medium- to long-term effects appear to be negative and economically large.

Keywords: Health, Retirement, SHARE, SHARELIFE

JEL Classification: I10, J14, J26

Suggested Citation

Heller-Sahlgren, Gabriel, Work ‘Til You Drop: Short- and Longer-Term Health Effects of Retirement in Europe (September 27, 2012). IFN Working Paper No. 928. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2153191 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2153191

Gabriel Heller-Sahlgren (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

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