Does Labor Force Retirement Accelerate Mortality? General Considerations and Evidence from U.S. Supreme Court Justices, 1801-2006

Ross M. Stolzenberg, University of Chicago

Does labor force retirement accelerate death? Previous studies report positive, negative and null effects of retirement on mortality hazard. It is difficult to resolve these inconsistencies because (1) nearly all data confounds unemployment with retirement and (2) often, endogeneity bias is uncorrected. We analyze data that avoid these problems, from an exceptional subgroup, of interest in its own right: U.S. Supreme Court justices, 1801-2006. Using discrete time event history methods, we examine retirement effects on mortality hazard and years left alive. Substantive and methodological considerations suggest several models. Some models specify endogenous effects estimated by instrumental variables (IV) probit, IV Tobit and IV regression methods. Others specify effects estimated by endogenous switching (ES) probit and ES regression. All results are consistent with the hypothesis that retirement increases mortality hazard and reduces years left alive. Retirement effects on mortality hazard compare to the effects of smoking two packs of cigarettes daily.

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Presented in Session 78: Economics of Aging and Retirement