Can Pensions Save Lives? Evidence from the Introduction of Old-Age Assistance in the UK

Philipp Jäger (RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung)

I study the impact of old-age assistance on mortality using the introduction of public pensions in the UK in 1909 as a quasi-natural experiment. Exploiting the newly created pension eligibility age through a difference-in-difference event-time design, I show that elderly mortality declined after the pension was introduced. The estimated mortality decline is economically relevant, more pronounced in counties with a higher treatment intensity and is driven by fewer deaths from infectious as well as non-communicable diseases. An analysis of individual level census data points to a reduction in crowding and retirement from hazardous work spaces as likely channels.