Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Expectations, Life Expectancy, and Economic Behavior

Contents:

Author Info

  • Hamermesh, Daniel S

Abstract

Unlike price expectations, which are central to macroeconomic theory and have been examined extensively using survey data, formation of individuals' horizons, which are central to the theory of life-cycle behavior, have been completely neglected. This is especially surprising since life expectancy of adults has increased especially rapidly in Western countries in the past ten years. This study presents the results of analyzing responses by two groups--economists and a random sample--to a questionnaire designed to elicit subjective expectations and probabilities of survival. It shows that people do not extrapolate past improvements in longevity when they determine their subjective horizons, though they are fully aware of levels of and movements within today's life tables. They skew subjective survival probabilities in a way that implies the subjective distribution has greater variance than its actuarial counterpart; and the subjective variance decreases with age. They also base their subjective horizons disproportionately on their relatives' longevity, and long-lived relatives increase uncertainty about the distribution of subjective survival probabilities. As one example of the many areas of life-cycle behavior to which the results are applicable, the study examines the consumption-leisure choices of the optimizing consumer over his lifetime. It finds that shortfalls in utility in old age because people's ex ante horizons had to be updated as -- average longevity increased are relatively small. This implies that large subsidies to retirees under today's Social Security system cannot be justified as compensation for an unexpectedly long retirement for which they failed to save.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0033-5533%28198505%29100%3A2%3C389%3AELEAEB%3E2.0.CO%3B2-U&origin=repec
File Function: full text
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to JSTOR subscribers. See http://www.jstor.org for details.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 100 (1985)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 389-408

as in new window
Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:100:y:1985:i:2:p:389-408

Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://mitpress.mit.edu/journals/

Order Information:
Web: http://mitpress.mit.edu/journal-home.tcl?issn=00335533

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1980. "Social Insurance and Consumption: An Empirical Inquiry," NBER Working Papers 0600, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Levhari, David & Mirman, Leonard J, 1977. "Savings and Consumption with an Uncertain Horizon," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(2), pages 265-81, April.
  3. Turnovsky, Stephen J & Wachter, Michael L, 1972. "A Test of the "Expectations Hypothesis" Using Directly Observed Wage and Price Expectations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 54(1), pages 47-54, February.
  4. Lawrence Kotlikoff & Avia Spivak & Lawrence H. Summers, 1980. "The Adequacy of Savings," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 569, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  5. Jonung, Lars, 1981. "Perceived and Expected Rates of Inflation in Sweden," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 961-68, December.
  6. Davies, James B, 1981. "Uncertain Lifetime, Consumption, and Dissaving in Retirement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(3), pages 561-77, June.
  7. Arthur, W B, 1981. "The Economics of Risks to Life," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(1), pages 54-64, March.
  8. Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:100:y:1985:i:2:p:389-408. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Karie Kirkpatrick).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.