How Do Pensions Affect Expected and Actual Retirement Ages?

Alicia H. MunnellRobert K. Triest Natalia Jivan



This paper uses the first six waves of the Health and Retirement Study to investigate the impact of pensions on expected retirement age, on the probability of being retired in each wave given employment in the previous wave, and on the probability of retiring earlier than planned. Pension coverage per se and the type of pension are important in each case. Pension wealth reduces the expected retirement age by 0.6 year, and the incentives in defined benefit plans lower the expected age by another 1.1 years. Pension wealth increases the probability of retiring in a given wave, and pension accruals reduce the probability. Other characteristics of defined benefit plans, as measured by the pension dummy, further raise the probability of being retired. Finally, with regard to the probability of retiring earlier than planned, a change in defined contribution wealth increases the probability, but pension coverage per se reduces it. That is, those with pensions tend to be more accurate planners than those without.