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Abstract

Does Retirement Make you Happy? A Simultaneous Equations Approach
Raquel Fonseca, Arie Kapteyn, Jinkook Lee and Gema Zamarro
WP 2014-310

Continued improvements in life expectancy and fiscal insolvency of public pensions have led to an increase in pension entitlement ages in several countries, but its consequences for subjective well-being are largely unknown. Financial consequences of retirement complicate the estimation of effects of retirement on subjective well-being as financial circumstances may influence subjective well-being, and therefore, the effects of retirement are likely to be confounded by the change in income. At the same time, unobservable determinants of income are probably related with unobservable determinants of subjective well-being, making income possibly endogenous if used as control in subjective well-being regressions. To address these issues, we estimate a simultaneous model of retirement, income, and subjective well-being while accounting for time effects and unobserved individual effects. Public pension arrangements (replacement rates, eligibility rules for early and full retirement) serve as instrumental variables. We use data from HRS and SHARE for the period 2004-2010. We find that depressive symptoms are negatively related to retirement while life satisfaction is positively related. Remarkably, income does not seem to have a significant effect on depression or life satisfaction. This is in contrast with the correlations in the raw data that show significant relations between income and depression and life satisfaction. This suggests that accounting for the endogeneity of income in equations explaining depression or life satisfaction is important.

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