The Implications of Career Lengths for Social Security

Brief

The Implications of Career Lengths for Social Security

Abstract

Growing fiscal pressures and increasing life expectancy have prompted calls to raise retirement ages. Some fear this change might harm long-career, lower-wage workers. Tying retirement benefit eligibility to years of service might protect low-wage workers who start their careers early. But higher disability rates and greater employment volatility could offset lower-wage workers early labor force starts. Using survey data matched to administrative records, we describe how work histories vary by gender, education, and other characteristics. We find that years of service are not likely to effectively protect the lowest-wage workers, as those with the least education also work the least.

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