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The Cognitive Demands of Work and the Length of Working Life: The Case of Computerization

a MiCDA Research Project Description

Investigators: Robert Willis

Funding (subcontract): Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, 2016-2017 (9920170024)

While technological change may reduce the physical demands of work, allowing workers to retire later, rapid advances in technology might also increase the cognitive demands of work, forcing many to retire earlier than they want to. This project aims at analyzing how technological change affected the retirement behavior of older workers in the last three decades with a case study of computerization, arguably the most important technological change of our era. We will track how the age of retirement changed in highly computerized occupations compared to less computerized occupations. If older workers did not want to invest in learning how to use computers, they may have decided to retire earlier when computers were first introduced at their jobs. In this case we would expect a temporary increase in retirement in computerized occupations. It is also possible that computers made their work more productive, in which case we may see a permanent decrease in their retirement.

Research Signature Themes:

Health and well-being in later life: Life Course Determinants
Economics of Saving and Retirement in the U.S.

Country of Focus: USA