Asset Cycles and the Retirement Decisions of Older Workers

Jan Ondrich

WP#2010-13

Abstract

To determine how asset values of older workers affect their future retirement decisions, it is important to take into account how asset values change over asset cycles. This study uses HRS data from waves 1992 through 2008 together with restricted SSA data on geographic location to estimate a model of the age at first self-reported retirement for the subsample of married males. The model covariates include demographic variables, workplace variables, non-housing financial wealth, housing equity and size of mortgage. The proportional hazard estimates are, for the most part, significant and of the correct sign. The estimated models replicate the decisions of the sample members for the period from 2000 to 2007. The models do not replicate the sharp drop in the aggregate retirement rate in the year 2008, the final year of the sample, which is also the first sample year in which non-housing financial wealth and housing equity both declined throughout the United States.