Retirement and Economic Behavior

By Henry J. Aaron; Gary Burtless | Go to book overview

ultimately lead to a pension may not receive any credit toward a pension if he or she leaves before the pension is vested. With portable credits only the total working life in covered jobs would count, not how long the worker spent in each job. The addition of price indexing to private pensions would increase real benefits significantly. For example, in 2020 the benefits of men 68 through 71 and men 72 and over would be 43 percent and 96 percent higher if they were fully indexed than they would be if the rules were not changed.

If pension coverage in private employment were made universal, women would benefit far more than men. In 2020, 60 percent of women 65 through 71 would receive a private employer pension if coverage were universal, compared with 40 percent under current rules. The comparable figures for men are 75 percent and 65 percent. However, most of those added to the pension rolls would receive modest benefits, which would cause the average benefit to decline.

If pension credits were made portable among employers, so that a worker would not lose accumulated credits when switching jobs, the proportion of workers eventually earning a pension would rise slightly, but the effect on the amount of benefits would be striking. The average benefit payable to men, for example, would rise from an estimated $3,809 (in 1980 dollars) in the base case to $6,756 if all pension credits were portable.

In her paper Zedlewski indicates a number of ways in which the accuracy of such projections could be improved. It would be desirable, for example, to incorporate into the DYNASIM model the relation between pension characteristics and job turnover, the issue examined in Wolf and Levy's paper in this book. The model lacks any explicit treatment of asset accumulation and government pensions, both of which would be expected to influence labor supply, particularly in the years just before or after retirement. Addition of modules that would permit simulation of asset accumulation and government pensions should be undertaken.


Conclusion

Several themes dominated the conference at which these papers were presented. One concerned the technical problems of modeling the process of retirement itself. These problems derive from the variety of

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