Cognitive Ability, Personality, and Pathways to Retirement: An Exploratory Study

TitleCognitive Ability, Personality, and Pathways to Retirement: An Exploratory Study
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsHudomiet, P, Parker, AM, Rohwedder, S
Secondary AuthorsFisher, GG
JournalWork, Aging and Retirement
ISSN Number2054-4642
KeywordsBridge employment, Cognition & Reasoning, Personality, Retirement Planning and Satisfaction

This article describes an exploratory study that investigates the extent to which two sets of psychological factors, fluid cognitive ability and personality traits, predict late-in-life work and retirement outcomes. Using longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study, we first provide a detailed characterization of within-subject work-to-retirement pathways, spanning 14 years of data for each individual, and identify the most frequent pathway classes. We found that only 37% of workers followed the "standard" pattern of retiring completely from a full-time job. We then examined how cognitive ability and personality traits predict these work-to-retirement pathways. We found that individuals with better cognitive ability work longer, both in full- and in part-time jobs, and extraversion is a strong predictor of working longer, mainly in part-time jobs. These results are robust to the inclusion of many covariates, including demographics, health, socioeconomic status, and labor market variables. Although the observed patterns match individuals' retirement expectations to some extent, there also seems to be evidence of some surprise. Practical implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Citation Key9437