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The Effect of Benefit Reductions on the Retirement Age: The Heterogeneous Response of Manual and Non‐Manual Workers

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I estimate the effect of benefit reductions on the timing of retirement. The introduction of actuarial adjustments in the German public pension system serves as a source of exogenous variation to estimate discrete time transition rates into retirement for individuals of age 60–66. Responses to benefit reductions are elaborated separately for manual and non‐manual workers. On average, individuals postpone retirement by 13.2 months if pension benefits are reduced by 3.6 percent for each year of early retirement. This result is in line with the previous quasi‐experimental literature and suggests that people respond to the incentive of reducing the implicit tax on further periods of work. However, among men the response is about 50 percent lower for manual workers compared to non‐manual workers. Surprisingly, this does not necessarily indicate that retirement incomes of manual workers deteriorate. The explanation is that disability pensions are available at age 63—without benefit reductions.
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Keywords: C41; H55; J26; effect heterogeneity; expected pension wealth; financial incentives; natural experiment; retirement age

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 March 2018

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