The authors used the first wave of the Health and Retirement Survey to study the effect of health on the labor force activity of black and white men in their fifties. Their evidence confirms the notion that health is an extremely important determinant of early labor force exit. The authors' estimates suggest that health differences between blacks and whites can account for most of the racial gap in labor force attachment for men. For women, when participation rates are comparable, our estimates imply that black women would be substantially more likely to work than white women were it not for the marked health differences.
The authors also found for both men and women that poor health has a substantially larger effect on labor force behavior for blacks. The evidence suggests that these differences result from black/white differences in access to the resources necessary to retire.