Bulls, Bears, and Retirement Behavior

52 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2004 Last revised: 24 Aug 2009

See all articles by Courtney Coile

Courtney Coile

Wellesley College; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Phillip B. Levine

Wellesley College; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: September 2004

Abstract

The historic boom and bust in the stock market over the past decade had the potential to significantly alter the retirement behavior of older workers. Previous research examining the impact of wealth shocks on labor supply supports the plausibility of this hypothesis. In this paper, we examine the relationship between stock market performance and retirement behavior using the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), Current Population Survey (CPS), and Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF). We first present a descriptive analysis of the wealth holdings of older households and simulate the labor supply response among stockholders necessary to generate observed patterns in retirement. We show that few households have substantial stock holdings and that they would have to be extremely responsive to market fluctuations to explain observed labor force patterns. We then exploit the unique pattern of boom and bust along with variation in stock exposure to generate a double quasi-experiment, comparing the retirement and labor force re-entry patterns over time of those more and less exposed to the market. Any difference in behavior that emerged during the boom should have reversed itself during the bust. We find no evidence that changes in the stock market drive aggregate trends in labor supply.

Suggested Citation

Coile, Courtney and Levine, Phillip B., Bulls, Bears, and Retirement Behavior (September 2004). NBER Working Paper No. w10779. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=593461

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
United States

Phillip B. Levine

Wellesley College ( email )

106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02181
United States
781-283-2162 (Phone)
781-283-2177 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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