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The impact of uncapping of mandatory retirement on postsecondary institutions. (Weinberg & Scott 2013)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Weinberg, S. L., & Scott, M. A. (2013). The impact of uncapping of mandatory retirement on postsecondary institutions. Educational Researcher, 42(6), 338-348.

Highlights

  • The study examined the impact of uncapping mandatory retirement on retirement ages at postsecondary institutions
  • The study used a statistical model to examine the age of retirement before and after the policy change in 1993. It used data on faculty’s employment and retirement from a research university with multiple schools.
  • The study found that uncapping was associated with a statistically significant increase in the retirement age among those who retired from the university.
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar nor did they control for differences between the groups. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA); other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA)

Features of the Study

The federal ADEA prohibited mandatory retirement at age 70 starting in 1986, but higher education institutions were exempted from this law until 1993. This study used survival analysis and hazard risk curves to examine the distribution of faculty retirement ages among those who retired from a private research university. The data were from the university’s employment and retirement records of about 3,000 full-time tenured faculty who were employed at the university from 1981 to 2009.

Findings

Employment

  • The study found a statistically significant difference in the distribution of median retirement age before and after the uncapping, with the cohort working after 1993 retiring four years later than those working before 1993. The authors also found significant differences before and after the uncapping among gender, race, and ethnicity groups.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The authors found that the composition of the treatment and control groups varied by gender, race, and ethnicity. They did not control for these differences in the analyses, but they did show that there were still significant impacts of uncapping within gender, race, and ethnicity groups. The authors also demonstrated that the median age of the faculty increased from 1981 to 2009, but the authors did not account for age differences between the treatment and comparison groups. These differences between the groups—and not ADEA— could explain the observed differences in outcomes.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar, nor did they control for differences between the groups. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to ADEA; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

September 2019

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