Distributed November 16, 2000
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Kristen Cole

Aging in America

Study to look at lifestyle factors influencing the decision to retire

A $726,981 grant from the National Institute on Aging will support economist Robin L. Lumsdaine’s study into a variety of non-economic factors influencing the decision to retire.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Professor of Economics Robin L. Lumsdaine recently received a five-year, $726,981 grant from the National Institute on Aging to study lifestyle factors that influence the retirement decision. Her research will look at factors such as care-giving responsibilities, attitudes about life expectancy, and health.

Lumsdaine will look at two sets of data, one encompassing 12,000 individuals aged 51 to 61 and their spouses, taken in 1992; and another encompassing 8,000 individuals aged 70 and above, taken in 1993. Within the datasets is detailed information about the demographics, health, work history, family makeup, and financial variables of each individual.

Of particular interest is whether care-giving obligations cause people to retire earlier so that they are able to provide care for a loved one or cause people to work longer so that they are able to afford third-party care, said Lumsdaine.

“Much earlier research focused on one or two factors affecting the retirement decision, and typically either considered just economic factors or just family influences, but not both,” said Lumsdaine. “One of the exciting aspects of this project is that it enables me to consider all of these aspects of retirement. They are very rich datasets and will therefore help to provide a comprehensive picture.”

Some of Lumsdaine’s earlier research, in collaboration with researchers James H. Stock and David A. Wise at Harvard University, looked at the effect of Social Security and pension plan provisions on retirement decisions. With this study she aims to bridge the non-economic and economic side of the decision that some anxiously await and others desperately dread.

Lumsdaine is affiliated with Brown’s Population Studies and Training Center and the Taubman Center for Public Policy. Her grant is administered through the National Bureau of Economic Research, where she is a research associate, as part of its ongoing Economics of Aging Project.