Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





David A. Jaeger

Committee Members

Michael Grossman

Sanders D. Korenman

Frank Heiland

Subject Categories

Economics | Health Economics | Labor Economics


Aging, Labor Economics, Health Economics


This dissertation consists of three essays that examine health and labor issues among the middle aged and elderly.

Chapter 1. A Delayed Retirement Policy and Male Labor Supply: Evidence from the Entire Dutch Population

This chapter examines the labor supply effects of a national delayed retirement policy introduced in the Netherlands in 2009. The policy offers a reduction in taxes on labor income for each year after the age of 62 in which a person worked. I estimate the average effect of the policy on male labor supply as well as its responsiveness to the size of the incentive. Comparing differentially affected birth cohorts suggests that labor force participation increased by about 3.8 to 5.5 percentage points in the three years after introduction for cohorts that were eligible before the normal retirement age. I also find that a higher bonus induces a greater increase in participation and in the number of hours supplied by those working.

Chapter 2. Joint Delayed Retirement of Couples

In this chapter, I study the effect of husbands’ labor force participation on the participation decision of their wives. I exploit the fact that the introduction of the delayed retirement policy studied in chapter one provides a natural experiment allowing me to estimate the Local Average Treatment Effect (LATE) of husbands working on the probability that their wives work, for couples in which the husband was induced by the policy to remain in the labor force. I also study both the average effect of the policy on wives who were not eligible themselves, as well as the spillover effect of the policy through their husbands’ response to the policy.

My results suggest that wives are 30 percentage points more likely to work if their husbands work among couples that were affected by the policy and I find a treatment effect on the labor force participation of wives associated with the policy of about 1.5-2 percentage points.

Chapter 3. The Effect of Divorce on Health in Middle and Older Ages

with Sanders D. Korenman

Both the prevalence and incidence of divorce at older ages have doubled since 1990. We use Health and Retirement Study data to describe associations between divorce and health in middle and later life, using models that follow individuals and couples through divorce (i.e., individual and couple fixed effects).

Divorce in middle and older ages is associated with adverse physical health changes for women but not men, and greater mental health declines for women than men. Following individuals over time, women who divorce experience deteriorations in self-reported health and mental health, including depression. Following couples over time, divorce is associated with deterioration in self-reported health for wives but not their husbands. After divorce, a woman is more likely than her ex-husband to be diagnosed with mental health conditions. Differences in self-reported health associated with divorce appear linked to changes in mental rather than physical health.

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