Retirement Behavior and the Global Financial Crisis

Jason J. Fichtner, John W.R. Phillips, and Barbara A. Smith

Abstract — Recent economic conditions have vastly changed the retirement landscape. Declines in assets as well as high unemployment changed the retirement plans of many Americans. Shocks to employment and wealth have likely influenced retirement behavior. This chapter provides a survey of the current literature on the influence of employment and wealth shocks on retirement and then makes use of administrative records on benefit applications to provide a preliminary analysis of changes in early retirement (age 62) claiming resulting from the recent economic downturn and implications. Since early claiming can have long lasting implications for retirement well being, we address how Americans learn about their retirement options.

Keywords: retirement, wealth, shocks, economic downturn, Social Security, unemployment