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Abstract

Because the near-elderly have high expected medical expenditures, availability of health insurance is an important factor in their retirement decisions. Using Health and Retirement Study data collected in 1992-2002, the authors of this study investigate whether access to employer-provided retiree health insurance enabled dual working couples to time their retirement together--a behavior called “joint retirement.” They find that when wives had employer-provided retiree health insurance, the likelihood of joint retirement more than doubled. The effect of retiree health insurance on overall employment patterns, in contrast, was modest: estimates indicate that a hypothetical change from universal availability of such insurance to its universal unavailability would have increased employment levels by only two percentage points.

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