Reconsidering Retirement

How Losses and Layoffs Affect Older Workers

Courtney C. Coile,

Reconsidering Retirement: How Losses and Layoffs Affect Older Workers
The economic crisis has led many older Americans to put their dreams of retirement on hold. As home prices and equity plunged, along with the value of 401(k) accounts, media reports highlighted the plight of would-be retirees forced to stay on the job. But as labor economists Courtney Coile and Phillip Levine show in Reconsidering Retirement, this focus paints an incomplete and misleading picture of the recession’s impact on older workers.In this important new book, Coile and Levine go beyond the headlines to explain how the economic crisis will affect retirement patterns and the well-being of older Americans. By looking separately at the stock, housing, and labor markets, the authors identify both the mechanisms behind changes in retirement behavior and their combined effect. As expected, they find that the decline in the stock market will lead some workers to delay retirement. However, lower home prices will have no effect on retirement decisions, while the weak labor market will cause other workers to withdraw from the labor force earlier than they might like.Equally important, Reconsidering Retirement asks how the recession will affect different groups of workers. Will less-skilled workers fare worse than highly skilled or high-earning individuals? And what can and should policymakers do to aid those who are worst off?Coile and Levine’s conclusions will surprise many readers. For example, they find that the net effect of the current crisis will be to increase the number of retirements, particularly among low-skilled workers who are laid off and unable to find work. Among older Americans, these involuntary early retirees—who may number close to 400,000—will suffer the most as a result of the economic downturn. Yet they have been largely overlooked by pundits and the public alike. Reconsidering Retirement argues persuasively for moving them to center stage.Contents1. Introduction
2. Defining and Explaining Retirement3. Detecting the Impact of Market Conditions4. Impact of the Stock Market Crash5. Impact of the Housing Market Crash6. Impact of the Labor Market Crash7. Implications for Retiree Well-Being8. Discussion and Policy ImplicationsIndex

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