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The Relationship Between Work Decisions and Location Later in Life

In a recent paper published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ECONorthwest senior economist Dr. Kevin Cahill addresses employment later in life and location decisions.

To what extent does continued work later in life in the form of bridge job employment impact the relocation decisions of older Americans?

That's the question Kevin Cahill, ECONorthwest senior economist; Michael Giandrea, a research economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics; and Joseph Quinn, a professor of economics at Boston College, looked to answer in their recent paper. In the paper, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Office of Survey Methods Research published in October, the authors note that many have suggested that continued work later in life can be a way for older workers to help maintain their standard of living in retirement, by increasing income in the near term and simultaneously delaying the date at which assets are drawn down.

While the financial benefit of continued work is straightforward and potentially large, the ripple effects of continued work can impact the lives of older Americans in many other ways. The authors use the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), an ongoing nationally-representative longitudinal survey of older Americans that began in 1992, to explore the frequency and determinants of relocations among career workers who moved to a bridge job relative to those who exited from the labor force directly.

For both groups the authors find that long-distance relocations following career employment were infrequent, as less than one in twenty career workers moved to a new Census Division. Moves that involved a change in “area” or change in residence, however, were much more common, with a frequency at the time of transition from career employment of 9 percent and 15 percent, respectively. Most importantly, the frequency of moves was similar for those who took bridge jobs and those who exited directly, as were key determinants of moves, suggesting that continued work does not significantly limit or promote relocations.

The authors also presented their findings to the American Economic Association's 2012 Allied Social Sciences Association Conference in Chicago.


Dr. Kevin E. Cahill specializes in the economics of aging, labor and health economics, and statistical methods. He is a senior economist and the managing director of ECONorthwest's new office in Boise, Idaho. Read more about ECONorthwest's expanding presence in Idaho.

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