Familial Health Histories and Their Relationship to Retirement Expectations and Retirement Wealth

Cathleen Zick, University of Utah
Robert Mayer, University of Utah
Lorayne Taylor, University of Utah

Significant portions of the American population are facing a retirement savings shortfall and there is some evidence that changes in health may contribute to these shortfalls. The experience of poor health is hypothesized to lead individuals to lower wealth accumulation through its effect on risk aversion, rate of time preference, income variability, and/or consumption choices. We expand on this thesis by (a) testing for the possibility that the timing of health events within the life course affects this relationship, and (b)assessing whether familial health histories (e.g., large percentages of first or second degree relatives who experience the early-onset of chronic diseases) also play a role in shaping retirement expectations and retirement wealth. Data from the University of Utah Retirement Planning Survey are linked to familial health history information contained in the Utah Population Database to test our hypotheses. Preliminary analyses reveal evidence of significant life course effects.

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Presented in Poster Session 7