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

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  • Wolfram J. Horneff
  • Raimond Maurer
  • Olivia S. Mitchell
  • Ivica Dus

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 %u201Cself-annuitization%u201D plan or the 401(k) %u201Cdefault%u201D 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 %u201Cbet on death.%u201D 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 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12392.

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Date of creation: Jul 2006
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12392

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  1. Robert C. Merton, 1982. "On Consumption-Indexed Public Pension Plans," NBER Working Papers 0910, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. David Blake & Andrew J. G. Cairns & Kevin Dowd, 2003. "Pensionmetrics 2: stochastic pension plan design during the distribution phase," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 24830, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1991. "How Strong Are Bequest Motives? Evidence Based on Estimates of the Demand for Life Insurance and Annuities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 899-927, October.
  5. 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.
  6. Joao F. Cocco, 2005. "Consumption and Portfolio Choice over the Life Cycle," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 18(2), pages 491-533.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Dus, Ivica & Maurer, Raimond H. & Mitchell, Olivia S., 2004. "Betting on death and capital markets in retirement: A shortfall risk analysis of life annuities versus phased withdrawal plans," CFS Working Paper Series 2004/01, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  10. Thomas Davidoff & Jeffrey R. Brown & Peter A. Diamond, 2005. "Annuities and Individual Welfare," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1573-1590, December.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Martin Feldstein & Elena Ranguelova & Andrew Samwick, 1999. "The Transition to Investment-Based Social Security when Portfolio Returns and Capital Profitability are Uncertain," NBER Working Papers 7016, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Brugiavini, Agar, 1993. "Uncertainty resolution and the timing of annuity purchases," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 31-62, January.
  16. 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.
  17. Michael D. Hurd & James P. Smith, 1999. "Anticipated and Actual Bequests," NBER Working Papers 7380, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. Olivia S. Mitchell & John Piggott & Michael Sherris & Shaun Yow, 2006. "Financial Innovation for an Aging World," NBER Working Papers 12444, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Ferro, Gustavo, 2008. "On annuities: an overview of the issues," MPRA Paper 20209, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Oct 2009.
  4. Yannis Bilias & Dimitris Georgarakos & Michael Haliassos, 2010. "Portfolio Inertia and Stock Market Fluctuations," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(4), pages 715-742, 06.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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