Social Security claiming behavior matters because early claimants receive lower monthly benefits for the rest of their lives. Early claiming fell over the past decade, after increasing over the previous 10 years. However, high unemployment encourages early claiming by less-educated men. A 1 percentage point increase in the state unemployment rate is associated with a 0.4 percentage point increase in the monthly claiming probability by men who never attended college, implying that the Great Recession boosted their claiming rates by about 40 percent. In contrast, claiming behavior by women and well-educated men is not significantly correlated with the unemployment rate.
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