Changes in spending and labor supply in response to a Social Security benefit cut

Evidence from stated choice data

Adeline Delavande, Susann Rohwedder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

We investigate how individuals in the U.S. expect to adjust their labor force participation and savings if Social Security benefits were cut by 30 percent. Respondents were asked directly what they would do under this scenario. Using the resulting stated choice data we find that respondents would on average reduce spending by 18.2 percent before retirement and 20.4 percent after retirement. About 34.1% of respondents state they would definitely work longer and they would postpone claiming Social Security by 1.1 years. We investigate how working longer and claiming Social Security later would compensate partially for the loss in benefits among the individuals who are currently working, under the assumption that individuals retire and claim at the same time. Individuals would increase their Social Security benefits from the post-reform level due to additional earnings entering the benefit calculation and a smaller early claiming penalty (or higher delayed claiming credit). As a result, the Social Security benefit people would receive would drop on average by 21 rather than 30 percent. Still, the net financial loss, even after accounting for additional earnings, is sizeable for individuals in the lowest wealth tertile.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-50
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Economics of Ageing
Volume10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

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labor supply
social security
evidence
retirement
labor force participation
savings
penalty
credit
Social security
Stated choice
Labor supply
scenario
reform
Retirement

Keywords

  • Health and Retirement Study
  • Social Security reform
  • Stated choice
  • Subjective expectations

Cite this

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abstract = "We investigate how individuals in the U.S. expect to adjust their labor force participation and savings if Social Security benefits were cut by 30 percent. Respondents were asked directly what they would do under this scenario. Using the resulting stated choice data we find that respondents would on average reduce spending by 18.2 percent before retirement and 20.4 percent after retirement. About 34.1{\%} of respondents state they would definitely work longer and they would postpone claiming Social Security by 1.1 years. We investigate how working longer and claiming Social Security later would compensate partially for the loss in benefits among the individuals who are currently working, under the assumption that individuals retire and claim at the same time. Individuals would increase their Social Security benefits from the post-reform level due to additional earnings entering the benefit calculation and a smaller early claiming penalty (or higher delayed claiming credit). As a result, the Social Security benefit people would receive would drop on average by 21 rather than 30 percent. Still, the net financial loss, even after accounting for additional earnings, is sizeable for individuals in the lowest wealth tertile.",
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note = "Funding: U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) via the Michigan Retirement Research Center (grant nr. UM08-08), National Institute on Aging (grant nr. P01AG008291) and Economic and Social Research Council Research Centre on Microsocial Change (grant nr. ES/L005999/1)",
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N2 - We investigate how individuals in the U.S. expect to adjust their labor force participation and savings if Social Security benefits were cut by 30 percent. Respondents were asked directly what they would do under this scenario. Using the resulting stated choice data we find that respondents would on average reduce spending by 18.2 percent before retirement and 20.4 percent after retirement. About 34.1% of respondents state they would definitely work longer and they would postpone claiming Social Security by 1.1 years. We investigate how working longer and claiming Social Security later would compensate partially for the loss in benefits among the individuals who are currently working, under the assumption that individuals retire and claim at the same time. Individuals would increase their Social Security benefits from the post-reform level due to additional earnings entering the benefit calculation and a smaller early claiming penalty (or higher delayed claiming credit). As a result, the Social Security benefit people would receive would drop on average by 21 rather than 30 percent. Still, the net financial loss, even after accounting for additional earnings, is sizeable for individuals in the lowest wealth tertile.

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