What age do you feel? – Subjective age identity and economic behaviors

TitleWhat age do you feel? – Subjective age identity and economic behaviors
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsYe, Z, Post, T
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior & Organization
Other NumbersJEL classification D12D14D91J20
KeywordsEconomic behaviors, Employment decision, identity, Portfolio choice, Saving, Subjective age

Building on recent findings in psychology, we study the impact of subjective age identity (feeling younger or older than one's chronological age) on economic behaviors. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study we find: Individuals with a younger age identity have higher work engagement, and their savings profile, as a function of the subjective age gap, is hump-shaped. The effects are economically significant, for example, increasing the subjective age gap by one standard deviation increases an individual's likelihood to be employed in a subsequent HRS wave by 1.1% (about 21% of the conditional mean). The relationships found are consistent with an interplay of two subjective age channels: Ability (self-perceived abilities to perform certain economic behaviors) and Preference (choosing (avoiding) “young” (“old”) behaviors). Our results have implications for policy and financial advice that traditionally target individuals based on chronological age. That is, for example, allowing more flexibility with respect to retirement decisions as well as aligning financial products and services with subjective age identities.

Citation Key10209