Health, Education, and the Post-Retirement Evolution of Household Assets

46 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2013 Last revised: 31 Jan 2013

See all articles by James M. Poterba

James M. Poterba

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics

Steven F. Venti

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

David A. Wise

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: January 2013

Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between education and the evolution of wealth after retirement. Asset growth following retirement depends in part on health capital and financial capital accumulated prior to retirement, which in turn are strongly related to educational attainment. These "initial conditions" for retirement can have a lingering effect on subsequent asset evolution. Our aim is to disentangle the effects of education on post-retirement asset evolution that operate through health and financial capital accumulated prior to retirement from the effects of education that impinge directly on asset evolution after retirement. We consider the indirect effect of education through financial resources--in particular Social Security benefits and defined benefit pension benefits--and through health capital that was accumulated before retirement. We also consider the direct effect of education on asset growth following retirement, emphasizing the correlation between education and the returns households earn on their post-retirement investments. Households with different levels of education invest, on average, in different assets, and they may consequently earn different rates of return. Finally, we consider the additional effects of education that are not captured through these pathways. Our empirical findings suggest a substantial association between education and the evolution of assets. For example, for two person households the growth of assets between 1998 and 2008 is on average much greater for college graduates than for those with less than a high school degree. This difference ranges from about $82,000 in the lowest asset quintile to over $600,000 in the highest.

Suggested Citation

Poterba, James M. and Venti, Steven F. and Wise, David A., Health, Education, and the Post-Retirement Evolution of Household Assets (January 2013). NBER Working Paper No. w18695. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2199771

James M. Poterba (Contact Author)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
E52-350
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-6673 (Phone)
617-253-1330 (Fax)

Steven F. Venti

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics ( email )

6106 Rockefeller Center
Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603-646-2526 (Phone)
603-646-2122 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

David A. Wise

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
32
Abstract Views
296
PlumX Metrics