Retirement in Japan and the United States: Cross-National Comparisons Using the Japanese Study of Aging and Retirement (JSTAR) and the U.S. Health and Retirement Study (HRS)

52 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2013

See all articles by Olivia S. Mitchell

Olivia S. Mitchell

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School; University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School, Pension Research Council; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

John W. R. Phillips

National Institutes on Aging

Date Written: October 1, 2012

Abstract

Cross-national comparisons of data from developed countries offer useful insights into the retirement process and policy. Here we summarize findings for older persons age 50-70 using new microdata files collected by the Japanese Study of Aging and Retirement (JSTAR) project, and we compare these with results in the U.S. Health and Retirement Study (HRS). We examine the relative importance of health, wealth, family, and other factors in work and retirement at older ages cross-nationally. Though both countries have relatively high employment at older ages, the Japanese have longer life expectancy, higher levels of financial wealth, and a lower public pension eligibility age. Our analysis, the first to compare these two rich data sources, suggests two conclusions (subject to revision when data weights become available). First, older Americans differ in key ways from their Japanese counterparts, particularly along educational, health, and wealth dimensions. Second, in some cases, there is a distinctly different impact of these factors on labor force outcomes. Specifically, age, sex, education, and wealth influence behavior differently across the two countries, though being obese or having better mental acuity/financial literacy scores has no differential impact. Thus observed differences in work patterns between Americans and Japanese at older ages are attributable to some identifiable factors; moreover, the results can be used to project future responses to changes in education, age, health, and wealth in order to account for the large differences in older workers’ work patterns at older ages in Japan and the US.

Keywords: retirement, retirement policy, Japan, labor force participation, older workers, financial literacy

Suggested Citation

Mitchell, Olivia S. and Phillips, John W. R., Retirement in Japan and the United States: Cross-National Comparisons Using the Japanese Study of Aging and Retirement (JSTAR) and the U.S. Health and Retirement Study (HRS) (October 1, 2012). Michigan Retirement Research Center Research Paper No. 2012-270. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2280360 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2280360

Olivia S. Mitchell (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School, Pension Research Council ( email )

3302 Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall
3620 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6302
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

John W. R. Phillips

National Institutes on Aging ( email )

Building 31, Room 5C27
31 Center Drive, MSC 2292
Bethesda, MD 20892
United States

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