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Retirement incentives, individual heterogeneity and labour transitions of employed and unemployed workers
García-Pérez, J. Ignacio; Jiménez-Martín, Sergi; Sánchez-Martín, Alfonso R.
Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament d'Economia i Empresa
In this paper we analyze the sensitivity of the labour market decisions of workers close toretirement with respect to the incentives created by public regulations. We improve upon the extensiveprior literature on the effect of pension incentives on retirement in two ways. First, bymodeling the transitions between employment, unemployment and retirement in a simultaneousmanner, paying special attention to the transition from unemployment to retirement (which is particularlyimportant in Spain). Second, by considering the influence of unobserved heterogeneity inthe estimation of the effect of our (carefully constructed) incentive variables.Using administrative data, we find that, when properly defined, economic incentives have astrong impact on labour market decisions in Spain. Unemployment regulations are shown to be particularlyinfluential for retirement behaviour, along with the more traditional determinants linked tothe pension system. Pension variables also have a major bearing on both workers reemploymentdecisions and on the strategic actions of employers. The quantitative impact of the incentives, however,is greatly affected by the existence of unobserved heterogeneity among workers. Its omissionleads to sizable biases in the assessment of the sensitivity to economic incentives, a finding thathas clear consequences for the credibility of any model-based policy analysis. We confirm theimportance of this potential problem in one especially interesting instance: the reform of earlyretirement provisions undertaken in Spain in 2002. We use a difference-in-difference approach tomeasure the behavioural reaction to this change, finding a large overestimation when unobservedheterogeneity is not taken into account.
Labour, Public, Development and Health Economics
pension system
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