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Social security and retirement timing: evidence from a national sample of teachers

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 February 2019

Melinda Sandler Morrill*
Department of Economics, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8110, USA
John Westall
Department of Economics, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8110, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:


This study documents an important role for Social Security income in workers’ retirement timing. About 40% of public school teachers are not covered by Social Security. This provides an opportunity to analyze the causal impact of Social Security on retirement timing by comparing covered and non-covered teachers. Using individual-level data from the American Community Survey, we find robust evidence of higher rates of retirement among covered teachers at Social Security eligibility ages. This pattern is confirmed using an alternative regression model of participation in the teacher labor force. These estimates suggest that, should the federal government mandate full inclusion in Social Security for all public sector workers, the retirement timing patterns of newly covered teachers and other public sector workers would likely change.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019 

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