Defining Retirement in Administrative and Survey Data: An Example with Swedish Data

Ann-Zofie Duvander, Demography Unit, Department of Sociology, Stockholm University
Linda Kridahl, Department of Sociology, Stockholm University
Haodong Qi, Stockholm University

Retirement often refers to the process when older workers withdraw themselves from the labor market. The measure of retirement may not necessarily be consistent across different empirical analyses, which may restrict the comparability of the empirical results across different data sources, studies, countries, social context, and over time. The study’s aim is to scrutinize and compare different measures of retirement timing, and to create more clarity in how various measures affect the understanding of retirement patterns while focusing on gender, cohorts and period differences. We do this in two ways. First, we first explore how results on retirement patterns differ with alternative measures based on pension and labor income in Swedish administrative registers. Second, we compare administrative income-based measures with a self-assessed indicator from survey data. Preliminary results show that when retirement timing is defined as when the share of pension out of total income equals or exceeds 50%, the retirement timing spikes at age 65. However, this spike is shifted to age 66 with a definition of pension share equal or exceeding 80% of total income. Patterns are similar for women and men but the spike when using the 50% definition is sharper for women. The results imply that the age pattern of retirement is sensitive to different income-based measures. Using the smaller share of pension reveal an early retirement pattern, as more individuals will be classified as retirees at a younger age. Conversely, a large share result in a pattern of delayed retirement, because individuals at younger age will be “disqualified” as retirees. The results also show that the 50% threshold is more similar to self-assessed retirement age derived from survey data. The age profile is closely mirrored by the pattern using the 50% threshold. The study finds that empirical evidence that different retirement definitions are not comparable.

Presented in Poster Session 3