Working Papers

February 2017, No. 17-03

Health, Health Insurance, and Retirement: A Survey

Eric French and John Bailey Jones

The degree to which retirement decisions are driven by health is a key concern for both academics and policymakers. In this paper we survey the economic literature on the health-retirement link in developed countries. We describe the mechanisms through which health affects labor supply and discuss how they interact with public pensions and public health insurance. The historical evidence suggests that health is not the primary source of variation in retirement across countries and over time. Furthermore, declining health with age can only explain a small share of the decline in employment near retirement age. Health considerations nonetheless play an important role, especially in explaining cross-sectional variation in employment and other outcomes within countries. We review the mechanisms through which health affects retirement and discuss recent empirical analyses.



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