The Changing Causes and Consequences of Not Working Before Age 62

TitleThe Changing Causes and Consequences of Not Working Before Age 62
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsButrica, BA, Karamcheva, NS
Series TitleUrban Institute Discussion Paper
Document Number12-03
InstitutionThe Urban Institute
CityWashington, D.C.
KeywordsConsumption and Savings, Disabilities, Employment and Labor Force, Net Worth and Assets, Public Policy, Social Security

This study uses the Health and Retirement Study to deepen our understanding of nonworking adults ages 51 to 61 and how they support themselves before qualifying for Social Security benefits. The results show that nonworking adults ages 51 to 61 are a heterogeneous group. A large share is poor, with low incomes and limited wealth. But a sizeable share has low incomes and abundant wealth. These individuals are income poor but asset rich. More than for singles, this phenomenon characterizes nonworking married adults. In general, we find that nonworking married adults are significantly better off than their unmarried counterparts. Many nonworking married adults have working spouses. On average, married adults without earnings have twice the per person income and more than ten times the per person assets of single adults without earnings. Additionally, married adults without earnings are 20-30 percentage points less likely to be poor than single adults without earnings. It is important for policymakers to understand who stops working early and how they support themselves. Nonworkers may be more likely to apply and qualify for Social Security disability and SSI benefits. Also, more than any other group, nonworkers will be adversely impacted by any increases to the early entitlement age. Finally, nonworkers are especially vulnerable in retirement because they are likely to have lower savings, Social Security benefits, and pensions than workers.

Endnote Keywords

Social Security/Public Policy/DISABILITY/DISABILITY/Asset accumulation/Saving/labor Force Participation

Endnote ID


Citation Key5924