Bachelor of Arts Amherst College, Master of Arts, 1969. Doctor of Philosophy Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., USA, 1975.
Assistant Professor, Association Professor, Boston College, 1975-1980,1980-1985. Visiting Assistant Professor, Institute, Institution Research on Poverty, Madison, Wisconsin, 1978,1979, 1980. Visiting Association Professor, Graduate School Public Policy, University California Berkeley, 1980-1984.
Professor of Economics, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, United States of America, since 1985. Editorial Boards, Social Science, J. Gerontology.
My recent research (much of it with Richard V. Burkhauser of Vanderbilt University) has focussed on the microeconomic determinants of individual retirement decisions — who retires when, and why? I have concentrated on the impact of public policy — mandatory retirement rules and the financial incentives implicit in our social security (SS) and pension systems. Central to this research is the belief that SS and pension rights are best viewed as assets — the present value of future income streams. When receipt of benefits is delayed (e.g., by the decision to continue work), the asset value of future SS or pension rights may rise or fall, depending on whether the benefits foregone today are adequately offset by the increments in benefits in the future.
Our research has established that at some age (certainly by 65), the asset value of these rights falls with continued work. This is equivalent to a pay cut, and in many cases a severe one. We find that individuals respond as expected — the higher the loss in SS or pension wealth associated with continued work, the higher the likelihood of retirement.
Mandatory retirement, in contrast, is often a redundant constraint — one that is superfluous given the financial inducements in place. Attempts to alter retirement patterns by delaying or eliminating mandatory retirement will have little impact unless the work disincentives facing the elderly are decreased. Fortunately, recent legislation has moved in that direction. Related work has studied the importance of SS and pension rights in the wealth portfolios of older Americans, total compensation comparisons between those in the public and private sectors, the extent and correlates of partial retirement, the retirement patterns of the self-employed, the impact of unexpected events in retirement plans, mandatory retirement and the university, and the measurement of economic status.