Inequalities in Retirement Lifespan in the Contemporary US
Jiaxin Shi1, Christian Dudel1, Christiaan Monden2, Alyson van Raalte1
1Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, 2University of Oxford
There are persistent and substantial social disparities in life expectancy at older ages. Yet how social factors play a role in retirement lifespan is unclear. We investigate sex and education differences in retirement lifespan taking into account individual labor-force exit-and-re-entry dynamics. Drawing on data from the 1992–2016 Health and Retirement Study, we estimate multistate life table using discrete-time Markov Chain models. We focus on three dimensions of inequalities: retirement expectancy, absolute and relative within-group retirement lifespan variations. We find that females and the higer-educated had higher retirement expectancy. Females and the lower-educated have higher absolute variation than males and the higher-educated—yet these relationships are reversed when examined by relative variation. When designing policies to mitigate various challenges in aging societies, policymakers may consider the double burden faced by the disadvantaged groups—(1) they have shorter retirement duration on average and (2) face greater uncertainty around the years of post-retirement life.