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Annuitized Wealth and Consumption at Older Ages

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Author Info

  • Barbara A. Butrica
  • Gordon B.T. Mermin

    ()
    (Urban Institute)

Abstract

The growing popularity of Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and defined contribution (DC) pension plans, which generally provide benefits in the form of lump sum payments instead of annuities, is likely to affect spending patterns at older ages. People who enter retirement with little of their wealth annuitized run the risk of spending too quickly and depleting their assets before they die. Or they might spend too slowly, out of fear of running out of money, and not enjoy as comfortable a retirement as they could afford. This study uses data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), including a recent supplemental expenditure survey, to examine how household expenditures among adults ages 65 and older vary by the degree of annuitization—where annuities include Social Security benefits, pensions and private annuity contracts, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Results indicate that typical older married adults hold 55 percent of their retirement wealth in annuitized assets, and unmarried adults have 59 percent of their wealth annuitized. Older adults with little annuitized wealth spend more, even controlling for demographics, income, and wealth. If all defined benefit pensions (DB) were converted into unannuitized DC retirement accounts, discretionary spending could increase by as much as 3 percent for married adults and 11 percent for unmarried adults. By comparison, if Social Security was completely privatized, and retirees did not annuitize, discretionary spending could increase by as much as 22 percent for married adults and 38 percent for unmarried adults.

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File URL: http://crr.bc.edu/working-papers/annuitized-wealth-and-consumption-at-older-ages/
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Center for Retirement Research in its series Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College with number wp2006-26.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2006
Date of revision: Dec 2006
Handle: RePEc:crr:crrwps:wp2006-26

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Related research

Keywords: annuitized wealth; consumption; older age; IRAs; DCs;

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References

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  1. Irena Dushi & Anthony Webb, 2004. "Annuitization: Keeping Your Options Open," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2004-4, Center for Retirement Research, revised Mar 2004.
  2. Jeffrey R. Brown & James M. Poterba, 1999. "Joint Life Annuities and Annuity Demand by Married Couples," NBER Working Papers 7199, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Barbara A. Butrica & Richard W. Johnson & Joshua H. Goldwyn, 2005. "Understanding Expenditure Patterns in Retirement," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2005-3, Center for Retirement Research, revised Jan 2005.
  4. Michael D. Hurd & Susann Rohwedder, 2006. "Some Answers to the Retirement-Consumption Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 12057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. James F. Moore & Olivia S. Mitchell, 1997. "Projected Retirement Wealth and Savings Adequacy in the Health and Retirement Study," NBER Working Papers 6240, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Burman, Leonard E. & Coe, Norma B. & Gale, William G., 1999. "Lump Sum Distributions from Pension Plans: Recent Evidence and Issues for Policy and Research," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 3), pages 553-62, September.
  7. Olivia S. Mitchell & James M. Poterba & Mark J. Warshawsky, . "New Evidence on the Money's Worth of Individual Annuities," Pension Research Council Working Papers 97-9, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  8. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2007. "Retirement Consumption: Insights from a Survey," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 265-274, May.
  9. James Banks & Richard Blundell & Sarah Tanner, 1995. "Is there a retirement-savings puzzle?," IFS Working Papers W95/04, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  10. Hurd, Michael & Panis, Constantijn, 2006. "The choice to cash out pension rights at job change or retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(12), pages 2213-2227, December.
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Cited by:
  1. James Poterba & Steven Venti & David Wise, 2011. "The Composition and Drawdown of Wealth in Retirement," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 95-118, Fall.
  2. Roozbeh Hosseini, 2008. "Adverse Selection in the Annuity Market and the Role for Social Security," 2008 Meeting Papers 264, Society for Economic Dynamics.

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