Labour Market Decisions of the Self-Employed in the Netherlands at the Statutory Retirement Age

We investigate retirement decisions of the self-employed in the Netherlands using administrative data. We focus on the time period around which individuals reach the statutory retirement age (SRA, 65 years in most cases). After the statutory retirement age, each Dutch resident receives the Old Age State Pension annuity (AOW), providing an income at the subsistence level. Both the timing and the magnitude of this state pension are well known in advance. According to a standard leisure/consumption trade-off life cycle model, receiving AOW should therefore have no impact on labour supply choices. While employees often face the demand side restriction of mandatory
retirement, this does not apply to the self-employed. We investigate whether retirement and earnings of the self-employed change at the SRA and whether any such changes vary with, e.g., the level of financial wealth. We find a peak in retirement when self-employed reach the SRA. The evidence suggests that the benchmark of retiring at 65 is acting as a driver, due to behavioral features like anchoring or a social norm.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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