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Optimizing the Retirement Portfolio: Asset Allocation, Annuitization, and Risk Aversion

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  • Wolfram Horneff

    (Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University of Frankfort)

  • Raimond Maurer

    (Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University of Frankfort)

  • Olivia Mitchell

    (Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Ivica Dus

    (Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University of Frankfort)

Abstract

Retirees must draw down their accumulated assets in an orderly fashion so as not to exhaust their funds too soon. We derive the optimal retirement portfolio from a menu that includes payout annuities as well as an investment allocation and a withdrawal strategy, assuming risk aversion, stochastic capital markets, and uncertain lifetimes. The resulting portfolio allocation, when fixed as of retirement, is then compared to phased withdrawal strategies such a "self-annuitization" plan or the 401(k) 'default' pattern encouraged under US tax law. Surprisingly, the fixed percentage approach proves appealing for retirees across a wide range of risk preferences, supporting financial planning advisors who often recommend this rule. We then permit the retiree to switch to an annuity later, which gives her the chance to invest in the capital market and "bet on death." As risk aversion rises, annuities first crowd out bonds in retiree portfolios; at higher risk aversion still, annuities replace equities in the portfolio. Making annuitization compulsory can also lead to substantial utility losses for less risk-averse investors.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp124.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp124

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  1. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1992. "How Strong are Bequest Motives? Evidence Based on Estimates of the Demand for Life Insurance and Annuities," NBER Working Papers 2942, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Martin Feldstein & Elena Ranguelova & Andrew Samwick, 2001. "The Transition to Investment-Based Social Security When Portfolio Returns and Capital Profitability Are Uncertain," NBER Chapters, in: Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 41-90 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Ivica Dus & Raimond Maurer & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2003. "Betting on Death and Capital Markets in Retirement: A Shortfall Risk Analysis of Life Annuities versus Phased Withdrawal Plans," Working Papers wp063, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  4. Kingston, Geoffrey & Thorp, Susan, 2005. "Annuitization and asset allocation with HARA utility," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(03), pages 225-248, November.
  5. Brugiavini, Agar, 1993. "Uncertainty resolution and the timing of annuity purchases," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 31-62, January.
  6. Michael D. Hurd & James P. Smith, 1999. "Anticipated and Actual Bequests," NBER Working Papers 7380, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Thomas Davidoff & Jeffrey R. Brown & Peter A. Diamond, 2003. "Annuities and Individual Welfare," NBER Working Papers 9714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Ivica Dus & Raimond Maurer & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2005. "Betting on Death and Capital Markets in Retirement: A Shortfall Risk Analysis of Life Annuities," NBER Working Papers 11271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Blake, David & Cairns, Andrew J. G. & Dowd, Kevin, 2003. "Pensionmetrics 2: stochastic pension plan design during the distribution phase," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 29-47, August.
  10. R. C. Merton, 1970. "Optimum Consumption and Portfolio Rules in a Continuous-time Model," Working papers 58, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. Olivia S. Mitchell & James M. Poterba & Mark J. Warshawsky, 1997. "New Evidence on the Money's Worth of Individual Annuities," NBER Working Papers 6002, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Robert C. Merton, 1982. "On Consumption-Indexed Public Pension Plans," NBER Working Papers 0910, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Albrecht, Peter & Maurer, Raimond, 2001. "Self-Annuitization, Ruin Risk in Retirement and Asset Allocation: The Annuity Benchmark," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 01-35, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universit├Ąt Mannheim & Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  14. Jeffrey R. Brown & Olivia S. Mitchell & James M. Poterba, . "The Role of Real Annuities and Indexed Bonds In An Individual Accounts Retirement Program," Pension Research Council Working Papers 99-2, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  15. 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.
  16. John F. Cogan & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2003. "Perspectives from the President's Commission on Social Security Reform," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(2), pages 149-172, Spring.
  17. Babbs, Simon H. & Nowman, K. Ben, 1999. "Kalman Filtering of Generalized Vasicek Term Structure Models," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(01), pages 115-130, March.
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  19. Dushi, Irena & Webb, Anthony, 2004. "Household annuitization decisions: simulations and empirical analyses," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 109-143, July.
  20. Milevsky, Moshe Arye & Ho, Kwok & Robinson, Chris, 1997. " Asset Allocation via the Conditional First Exit Time or How to Avoid Outliving Your Money," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 53-70, July.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Olivia S Mitchell & John Piggott & Michael Sherris & Shaun Yow, 2006. "Financial Innovation for an Ageing World," RBA Annual Conference Volume, in: Christopher Kent & Anna Park & Daniel Rees (ed.), Demography and Financial Markets Reserve Bank of Australia.
  2. Gaobo Pang, Mark J. Warshawsk, . "Optimizing the Equity-Bond-Annuity Portfolio in Retirement: The Impact of Uncertain Health Expenses," Research Reports 4, Watson Wyatt Worldwide.
  3. Bilias, Yannis & Georgarakos, Dimitris & Haliassos, Michalis, 2009. "Portfolio Inertia and Stock Market Fluctuations," CEPR Discussion Papers 7239, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Wolfram Horneff & Raimond Maurer & Olivia Mitchell & Michael Stamos, 2007. "Money in Motion: Dynamic Portfolio Choice in Retirement," Working Papers wp152, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  5. Wei Sun & Robert Triest & Anthony Webb, 2006. "Optimal Retirement Asset Decumulation Strategies: The Impact of Housing Wealth," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2006-22, Center for Retirement Research, revised Nov 2006.
  6. Ferro, Gustavo, 2008. "On annuities: an overview of the issues," MPRA Paper 20209, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Oct 2009.
  7. Ferro, Gustavo, 2008. "Un impulso al mercado de rentas vitalicias en Espa├▒a
    [Promoting the annuities market in Spain]
    ," MPRA Paper 20211, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jul 2008.

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