Employment and Retirement Following a Late Career Job Loss

Sewin Chan & Ann Huff Stevens
American Economic Review 89(2), May 1999, papers and proceedings, pages 211-216.

The frequency of job loss among workers in late career has risen disproportionately in recent years. During the early 1980s, displacement rates for 55-64 year olds were the lowest of any age cohort but by the recession of the early 1990s, they had the highest rates (see Farber [1997]). The effects of job loss on these workers are potentially severe: their earnings capacity, savings, and retirement expectations are likely to be dramatically affected and they may take substantially longer to be re-employed. However, despite these reasons for heightened concern, relatively little is known about the economic consequences of late career job loss among recent cohorts of workers. Empirical estimation of dynamic retirement models and analyses of retirement behavior in general have usually ignored involuntary job losses, and many recent studies of post-displacement outcomes have been limited to younger and mid- career workers. Given the changes in labor force participation, retirement rates and the nature of displacement over the past decade, it is important to document the effects of job loss on more recent cohorts of older workers. This paper presents findings from an ongoing research project that focuses on the economic impacts of late career job loss on employment and retirement patterns, as well as on earnings and assets.

Wagner Faculty