"The Effect of Physical and Cognitive Decline at Older Ages on Job Mismatch and Retirement" from Hudomiet (RAND), Hurd (RAND), Rohwedder (RAND) and Willis (Michigan)

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Physical and cognitive abilities of older workers decline with age, which can cause a mismatch between abilities and job demands, potentially leading to early retirement. We link longitudinal Health and Retirement Study data to O*NET occupational characteristics to estimate to what extent changes in workers’ physical and cognitive resources change their work-limiting health problems, mental health, subjective probabilities of retirement, and labor market status. While we find that physical and cognitive decline strongly predict all outcomes, only the interaction between large-muscle resources and job demands is statistically significant, implying a strong mismatch at older ages in jobs requiring large-muscle strength. The effects of declines in fine motor skills and cognition are not statistically different across differing occupational job demands.

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