Aging and Labor Force Participation: A Review of Trends and Explanations
David A. Wise
Robin L. Lumsdaine
The American population is aging rapidly. Persons 65 and over who now
constitute about one-fifth of the population will constitute about two-fifths
of the population by 2040. In addition, individuals are living longer. Yet
the labor force participation of older Americans has fallen dramatically in
recent years. This paper discusses this trend and the principal arguments
put forth to explain it. The paper is in two parts. The first part reviews
trends in labor force participation and associated trends in Social Security
(SS) coverage, firm pension plan coverage, and other factors that are likely
to be associated with the labor force participation
demographics. The second part of the paper discusses the incentive effects
of SS and retirement plans, with emphasis on firm pension plans.
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