Pensions, Retirement, and the Disutility of Labor: Bunching in Brazil

Small Fund Research Project
Benjamin Thompson

Elderly workers in developing countries face certain frictions, such as credit constraints, in their retirement decisions that may not be as common among their counterparts in the developed world, and these concerns may lead workers to work more or less than their preferred number of years. In this study, I firstly use regression discontinuity methods to show that a large fraction of urban male heads of households in Brazil (roughly 45%) react contemporaneously to pension eligibility by retiring. Because retirement is not required to receive the pension and because the return to working does not change discontinuously at the eligibility cutoff, workers should not react contemporaneously unless optimization frictions, such as credit constraints, are at work. Secondly, I develop a model of retirement decisions that explores how pensions in the face of credit constraints can influence such decisions, and I discuss applications of this model to determine how the observed behavior in conjunction with the model can be used to make inferences about welfare and labor supply decisions in the face of different pension values.

Funding:
Eva L. Mueller New Directions in Economics and Demography Fund

Funding Period: 1/31/2017 to 8/31/2017

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