Why Some Workers Remain in the Labor Force Beyond the Typical Age of Retirement

John B. Williamson Tay K. McNamara

WP#2001-9

Abstract

This study explored the ways in which race, gender, and age moderated the effects of several determinants of labor force participation among people ages 60 to 80. The role of race, gender, and age in moderating the effect of various factors on labor force participation was examined using the 1998 Health and Retirement Study (HRS) data. Binomial logistic regression models were used to evaluate the interaction between race, gender, age and other determinants of labor force participation. The effects of various factors on labor force participation differed by gender, race, and age. The negative effects of low education and poor health, respectively, were stronger for women and blacks. Also, the positive effect of low nonwage income was weaker for older workers, probably due partly to poorer health. Our findings suggest that different types of policies would help to encourage labor force participation among different groups. Because lack of access to employment may deter continued work among subgroups such as blacks and women with low education, job training or job search programs might provide incentives for employment in these groups. Additionally, employer flexibility regarding part-time work and work demands might make continued work attractive for more older workers.