Wharton Pension Research Council Working Papers


Erik Hurst

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



This chapter summarizes five facts that have emerged from the recent literature on consumption behavior during retirement. Most importantly, there is substantial heterogeneity in spending changes at retirement across consumption categories. The declines in spending during retirement are limited to the categories of food and work related expenses. Even though food spending declines during retirement, actual food intake remains constant. Furthermore, the literature shows that there is substantial heterogeneity across households in the change in expenditure associated with retirement. Much of this heterogeneity, however, can be explained by households involuntarily retiring. Overall, the evidence suggests that the standard model of lifecycle consumption augmented with home production and uncertain health shocks does well in explaining the consumption patterns of most households as they transition into retirement.


The published version of this Working Paper may be found in the 2008 publication: Recalibrating Retirement Spending and Saving.


consumption, retirement, spending

Working Paper Number


Copyright/Permission Statement

All remaining errors are his own; further, all findings, interpretations, and conclusions of this paper represent the views of the author and not those of the Wharton School or the Pension Research Council. © 2007 Pension Research Council of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved.


The author thanks Mark Aguiar, Jonathan Fisher, John Laitner, Olivia S. Mitchell, Karl Scholz, Dan Silverman, Jon Skinner, Tim Smeeding, and Mel Stephens for comments on this chapter. He is grateful to Barry Cynamon for his excellent research assistance.

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Economics Commons



Date Posted: 16 December 2019