The Effect of Job Mobility on Retirement Timing by Education

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Job-changing among late-career workers increased steadily from the 1980s through the mid-2000s before declining somewhat in recent years.  This study asks how the rise in job-changing – which seems largely voluntary – affects retirement timing and whether this effect varies by a key measure of socioeconomic status: educational attainment.  Workers presumably change jobs voluntarily to improve their well-being through gains in the economic or non-economic rewards of work or better working conditions.  As a result, workers switching jobs late in their careers might retire later than they otherwise would have.  Retiring later would be especially beneficial to less educated workers, who are generally less prepared financially to retire than better educated workers.  Changing jobs, however, sheds the protection that tenure provides against involuntary job loss, which often leads to earlier retirements for older workers.  This study seeks to understand which effect dominates, while dealing with the fact that job changing could be endogenous to retirement – that workers willing to bear the cost of a job search could intend to remain in the workforce longer.  The analysis does so by controlling for each individual’s planned retirement age.  The results show that the benefits of job changing are widely distributed and are associated with later retirements for men and women and for better and less educated workers.