Objective: Our study assesses how women and men’s
health indicators are shaped by their spouse’s retirement.
Background: The retirement process can reshape the health
of a retiree, but these effects can also extend onto the
health of spouses. Although past research has largely
focused on how men’s retirement might negatively shape
their wife’s health outcomes, it is possible that wives’
retirement has detrimental effects on their husband’s
health as well.
Method: Using data from the Health and Retirement
Study (HRS), we employ a fuzzy regression discontinuity
design to identify the causal effects of spousal retirement
on indicators of physical and mental health in married
Results: Our results suggested that men, not women, experience the most negative spousal spillover effects of retirement on their health outcomes. We found the most
support for spillover effects on spouses’ physical health
outcomes. Additionally, men who are not working when
their spouse retires experienced the most negative health
Conclusion: Women and men’s health is differentially
affected by spousal retirement, where men might be the
most negatively affected by their spouses’ transition in the
US context. These results contradict conventional wisdom
that undergirds numerous untested assumptions underlying prior research on this significant life transition.