Time to smell the roses? Risk aversion, the timing of inheritance receipt, and retirement
Understanding when workers choose to retire is key for the design of public pensions and labor market policies. Private wealth may play a substantial role in retirement decisions, but little is still known on the link between the two. In this paper, we explore a new way to leverage the receipt of an inheritance as a plausible exogenous wealth shock, by relying on the precise timing of receipt. Using retrospective calendars from the French wealth survey, we find that, at any age between 55 and 65, chances of current labor market exit are 40% higher among individuals who inherit at that age than among those who inherit in the next few years. To go further in understanding the effect of inheritance receipt on labor force participation, we develop a model of retirement choice with risk aversion and an endogenous replacement rate and we test its predictions. We find that inheritance receipt triggers current labor force exit because risk averse individuals plan their retirement date according to the certainty equivalent of their bequest, not its expected value.