Health Capacity to Work at Older Ages: Evidence from the U.S

50 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2016 Last revised: 12 Feb 2016

See all articles by Courtney Coile

Courtney Coile

Wellesley College; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Kevin S. Milligan

University of British Columbia (UBC) - 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 2016

Abstract

Public programs that benefit older individuals, such as Social Security and Medicare, may be changed in the future in ways that reflect an expectation of longer work lives. But do older Americans have the health capacity to work longer? This paper explores this question by asking how much older individuals could work if they worked as much as those with the same mortality rate in the past or as much as their younger counterparts in similar health. Using both methods, we estimate that there is significant additional capacity to work at older ages. We also explore whether there are differences in health capacity across education groups and whether health has improved more over time for the highly educated, using education quartiles to surmount the challenge of changing levels of education over time.

Suggested Citation

Coile, Courtney and Milligan, Kevin S. and Wise, David A., Health Capacity to Work at Older Ages: Evidence from the U.S (January 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w21940. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2725757

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
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Kevin S. Milligan

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics ( email )

997-1873 East Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Canada

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

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