Retiring Together or Working Alone: The Impact of Spousal Employment and Disability on Retirement Decisions

Research Report

Retiring Together or Working Alone: The Impact of Spousal Employment and Disability on Retirement Decisions

Abstract

This paper examines the retirement decisions of husbands and wives and how they interact with spousal health and employment status, using recent, nationally representative data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). The HRS is particularly well-suited for our study, because the survey includes detailed longitudinal information on labor supply and health status for a sample of individuals at midlife and their spouses. We begin by comparing employment status for married women and men by the health and employment of their spouses. We then estimate multivariate models of retirement to examine the impact of spousal employment and health on labor supply decisions. We find that both men and women were more likely to retire if their spouses had already retired than if they were still working. However, they were less likely to retire if their spouses appeared to have left the labor force because of health problems, especially when spouses were not yet eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. We find little evidence that spousal caregiving responsibilities affect retirement decisions.

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Cross-Center Initiative

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