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RETIREMENT INCOME RIGHTS AS A COMPONENT OF WEALTH IN THE UNITED STATES*

Joseph Quinn ()

Review of Income and Wealth, 1985, vol. 31, issue 3, 223-236

Abstract: Americans have accumulated a considerable amount of future purchasing power in the form of Social Security and employer pension rights. These rights are a form of wealth. In this paper, we ask how their inclusion alters the wealth portfolios of a sample of Americans at or nearing normal retirement age. Data from the 1973 wave of the longitudinal Retirement History Study suggest that, for many Americans, retirement income rights are the dominant component of wealth, and are often more important than all other entries combined, including home equity. We also find that this wealth can be seriously eroded during times of high inflation. Because of differences in marketability, pension and Social Security rights are not perfect substitutes for more liquid assets. Nonetheless, since they are so large in magnitude, and have been shown to be key determinants of the behavior of older workers, they should not be ignored.

Date: 1985
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