January 2015

IZA DP No. 8812: Pension Reform and Labor Supply: Flexibility vs. Prescription

revised version published as 'Pension Reform and Labor Supply' in: Journal of Public Economics, 2016, 142, 39–55

We exploit a comprehensive restructuring of the early retirement system in Norway in 2011 to examine labor supply responses to alternative pension reform strategies relying on improved work incentives (flexibility) or increased access ages (prescription), respectively. We find that increasing the returns to work is a powerful policy tool: The removal of the earnings test at age 63 led to an immediate increase in average annual labor earnings among the affected mature workers by around $14,700 (NOK 90,000). The implied uncompensated labor earnings elasticity (the percentage change in average gross earnings relative to the percentage change in average work-incentives) is around 0.25.