Planning for Retirement: The Accuracy of Expected Retirement Dates and the Role of Health Shocks

Debra S. Dwyer

WP#2001-8

Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between expectations about retirement, realizations of retirement, and the role of health shocks. Using waves 1 through 4 of the Health and Retirement Study we follow people into retirement. We explore the factors that affect changes to plans that were made in wave 1 paying special attention to changes in health status. We find that health shocks since the planning horizon trigger earlier retirement than planned. Existing health problems have little impact on changes to retirement plans. Health insurance availability continues to be a significant predictor of retirement.