Faculty Retirement and Mortality: The University of California Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Programs

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by Mark Borgschulte, University of California, Berkeley

This study examines take-up and long-run mortality effects of the Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Programs (VERIPs) conducted by the University of California (UC) in the early 1990s. VERIPs induced the retirement of over 20 percent of tenured and tenure-track faculty at UC, creating a large pool of retirees with significant variation in age and pension income.  Recent research on the mortality effects of early retirement find a variety of effects, ranging from mild positive long-run mortality benefits (Bingley and Pedersen, 2011) to immediate negative effects (Kuhn et al., 2010); some studies find no effect (Coe and Zamarro (2011) and Hernaes et al. (2012)).  This setting will allow me to isolate variation in retirement age among a group of workers likely to benefit from continued employment: physical requirements are minimal, cognitive and social stimulation readily available, and employment protections nearly inviolate. As such, this study will directly test for the possibility of beneficial effects of continued employment on subsequent mortality.  I will address issues specific to the population of tenured university faculty, and the end of mandatory retirement.

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