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Consumption Over the Life Cycle: The Role of Annuities

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  • Gary D. Hansen
  • Selahattin Imrohoroglu

Abstract

We explore the quantitative implications of uncertainty about the length of life and a lack of annuity markets for life cycle consumption in a general equilibrium overlapping generations model in which markets are otherwise complete. Empirical studies find that consumption tends to rise early in life, peak around age 45-55, and to decline after that. Our calibrated model exhibits life cycle consumption that is consistent with this pattern. This follows from the fact that, due to a lack of annuity markets, households discount the future more heavily as they age and their probability of survival falls. Once an unfunded social security system is introduced, the profile is still hump shaped, but the decline in consumption does not begin until after retirement in our base case. Adding a bequest motive causes this decline to begin at a younger age.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12341.

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Date of creation: Jun 2006
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12341

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  1. Gourinchas, P.O. & Parker, J.A., 1997. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle," Working papers 9722, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  2. Feigenbaum, James, 2008. "Can mortality risk explain the consumption hump?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 844-872, September.
  3. Mariacristina De Nardi & Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Thomas J. Sargent, 1999. "Projected U.S. Demographics and Social Security," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(3), pages 575-615, July.
  4. Hansen, G D, 1993. "The Cyclical and Secular Behaviour of the Labour Input: Comparing Efficiency Units and Hours Worked," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(1), pages 71-80, Jan.-Marc.
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  14. Friedman, Benjamin M & Warshawsky, Mark J, 1990. "The Cost of Annuities: Implications for Saving Behavior and Bequests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 135-54, February.
  15. Eric French, 2004. "The Labor Supply Response to (Mismeasured but) Predictable Wage Changes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 602-613, May.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Imrohoroglu, Ayse & Imrohoroglu, Selahattin & Joines, Douglas H, 1995. "A Life Cycle Analysis of Social Security," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 83-114, June.
  19. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Kent Smetters & Jan Walliser, 1999. "Privatizing Social Security in the U.S. -- Comparing the Options," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(3), pages 532-574, July.
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