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Volume 12 Issue 1 - May 2011

2011 MRRC Annual Research Workshop

On May 15-16, 2011, about 50 researchers gathered at the Institute for Social Research in Ann Arbor to attend the Seventh Annual Michigan Retirement Research Center (MRRC) Research Workshop. MRRC Director John Laitner kicked off the conference on Friday with opening remarks and enthusiastically welcomed everyone. The day-and-a-half long meeting presented a packed agenda with 30 research presentations and two lunchtime talks.

Speakers addressed the impact of the financial crisis and recession on the elderly, the health and well-being of older Americans, consumption and saving behavior across the life course, Social Security and disability benefits; Social Security reform; insights from psychology and behavioral models; pension reform in Chile; and updates on key data resources. (See photos from the workshop in the article MRRC Annual Research Workshop Photos.)

The first session, chaired by John Laitner, dealt with the current recession and housing market. Susann Rohwedder led off with a talk on The Effects of the Financial Crisis on Actual and Anticipated Consumption, coauthored by Michael Hurd. John Gist discussed findings from the paper Boom and Bust: Housing Refinancing, Equity Withdrawal, and Impacts on Retirement Wealth. Raimond Maurer presented a paper titled The Impact of the Financial Crisis on Asset Allocation, Annuity Demand, Work Effort, and Retirement Behavior over the Lifecycle, cowritten by Olivia Mitchell. Frank Stafford concluded the session with Pensions as a Rainy Day Fund?

Richard Burkhauser chaired the next session, which was on Social Security operations and reform. Alan Gustman presented The Effects of Changes in Women’s Labor Market Attachment on Redistribution under the Social Security Benefit Formula, coauthored by Thomas L. Steinmeier and Nahid Tabatabai. Selçuk Eren discussed findings from Effects of Legal and Unauthorized Immigration on the U.S. Social Security System, a joint project with Hugo A. Benítez-Silva and Eva Carceles-Poveda. David Neumark discussed findings from Policy Interactions between Increases in the Normal Retirement Age and Age Discrimination Laws.

Frank Stafford moderated the third session, which was titled What Can We Learn from Chile? Olivia Mitchell presented results from First-Round Impacts of the Chilean Social Security Reform, coauthored by Jere Behrman, Maria Cecilia Calderon, Javiera Vasquez and David Bravo. Estelle James discussed Impact of the Chilean Pension Reform on the Labor Supply of Men and Women, a joint project with Alejandra Cox Edwards.


Friday’s lunchtime talk featured Debra Whitman, staff director for the Senate Special Committee on Aging, who spoke about Retirement Security Issues and the Current Political and Budget Landscape. Whitman, who has a PhD in economics, has up-to-date Washington, DC, experience and was able to list a number of detailed topics of immediate policy interest.

Friday’s first afternoon session, moderated by Olivia Mitchell, addressed Insights from Psychology and Behavioral Models. Angela Duckworth discussed findings from Personality Predictors of Behavior During the Financial Crisis, coauthored by David Weir. Daniel Benjamin presented A Model of Non-Belief in the Law of Large Numbers. Philippa Clarke reported on Aging in a Cultural Context: Cross National Differences in Disability and the Moderating Role of Personal Control among Older Adults in the US and England.

Alan Gustman chaired the Friday afternoon panel of speakers who provided updates on key datasets: Frank Stafford talked about the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID); David Weir and Lauren Nicholas spoke about the Health and Retirement Study (HRS); and Bob Willis reported on the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE).

The fifth session, Life-Cycle Model: Consumption and Saving, was moderated by Alan Gustman. Michael Hurd spoke about Differential Mortality and Spending, coauthored by Susann Rohwedder. John Laitner presented his 2010 working paper HRS Data on Intergenerational Transfers, coauthored with Amanda Sonnega. Kenneth Couch discussed the paper How Do Changes in Family Composition Over the Lifecycle Affect Earnings and Retirement Well-Being? written in collaboration with Gayle Reznik, Christopher Tamborini, and John Phillips.

Olivia Mitchell chaired the last session Friday, which was on Health and Well-Being Among the Elderly. John Karl Scholz presented The Influence of Public Policy on Health, Wealth and Mortality, based on work with Ananth Seshadri. Jennifer Ward-Batts discussed Subjective Well-Being and Health.

Dmitriy Stolyarov headed the first session on Saturday, which dealt with the life-cycle model and retirement. Robert Clark presented the paper Pension Choices of Workers at Job Separation. Next, Robert Pollak discussed Labor Supply and the Timing of Retirement: A Family Bargaining Perspective. Shinichi Nishiyama presented findings from The Joint Labor Supply Decision of Married Couples and the Social Security Pension System. Erik Meijer spoke about findings from a joint project with Lynn Karoly, Representativeness of the Low-income Population in the HRS.
John Karl Scholz chaired Saturday’s first session out of two on Social Security Disability Insurance. Eric French presented The Effect of Disability Insurance Receipt on Labor Supply. Susan Chen discussed Spousal Labor Supply Responses to the Disability Insurance Program. Kathleen Mullen presented a paper coauthored by Nicole Maestas and Alexander Strand, Does Disability Insurance Receipt Discourage Work? Using Examiner Assignment to Estimate Causal Effects of SSDI Receipt. Nicole Maestas presented What are the Real Application Costs of SSDI? The Effect of Waiting Time on Labor Force Participation and Earnings, based on a joint effort with Kathleen Mullen, David Autor, and Alexander Strand. Lauren Nicholas concluded the session with a discussion of Health Insurance, Health Care and Work Disability amongst Older Adults.

Saturday’s lunch panel consisted of David Stapleton (chair), Richard Burkhauser, and Nicole Maestas who addressed the topic Slowing the Flow from the Labor Force to Social Security Disability Insurance: Will Fiscal Distress Accelerate Early Intervention Reform?

The final session of the workshop, also the second session on disability insurance, was chaired by Michael Hurd. Maximilian Schmeiser discussed Does Employer Accommodation Delay Application for the Social Security Disability Insurance Program? Evidence from State and Federal Anti-Discrimination and Accommodation Laws, based on joint work with Richard Burkhauser and Lauren Nicholas. Na Yin talked about The Effect of Medicare Coverage for the Disabled. Richard Burkhauser concluded the workshop with Capturing the Elusive Working-Age Population with Disabilities: Who the Six-Question Sequence in CPS-BMS and ACS Captures and Who It Misses, coauthored by Andrew Houtenville and Jennifer Tennant.