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Uncertain Lifetimes, Pensions, and Individual Saving

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  • R. Glenn Hubbard

Abstract

Attempts to measure the impacts of pensions on household saving have occupied much of the literature in empirical public finance over the past decade. The emphasis here is on the annuity insurance aspects of social security and pensions. A simple life-cycle model is put forth to show that even anactuarially fair, fully funded social security system can reduce individual saving by more than the tax paid. Hence, previous partial equilibrium estimates of the impact of social security on saving drawn solely from consideration of the intergenerational wealth transfer at the introduction of the system are, if anything too small. The large partial equilibrium effects are mitigated when initial endowments are considered. To the extent that the introduction of social security reduces the size of unplanned bequests, its net effect on the consumption of subsequent generations is diminished. The final sections of the paper extend the approach to private pensions and address empirical issues. Using a model specification for individual wealth accumulation from the literature, potential offsets are interpreted according to the presence or absence of a bequest motive and according to the ability of individuals to adjust their participation in private pensions to counteract involuntary changes in social security.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1363.

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Date of creation: Feb 1988
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Publication status: published as Hubbard, R. Glenn. "Uncertain Lifetimes, Pensions, and Individual Saving." Issues in Pension Economics, edited by Zvi Bodie, John Shoven and David A. Wise, pp. 175-206. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1363

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  1. Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1979. "Social Security and Equilibrium Capital Intensity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 233-53, May.
  2. King, M A & Dicks-Mireaux, L-D L, 1982. "Asset Holdings and the Life-Cycle," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(366), pages 247-67, June.
  3. Alan S. Blinder & Roger H. Gordon & Donald E. Wise, 1981. "Social Security, Bequests, and the Life Cycle Theory of Saving: Cross-Sectional Tests," NBER Working Papers 0619, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Lawrence H. Summers, 1980. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation," NBER Working Papers 0445, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Riley, John G, 1979. "Informational Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 331-59, March.
  6. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Avia Spivak, 1979. "The Family as an Incomplete Annuities Market," UCLA Economics Working Papers 151, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. Pauly, Mark V, 1974. "Overinsurance and Public Provision of Insurance: The Roles of Moral Hazard and Adverse Selection," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 44-62, February.
  8. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
  9. White, Betsy Buttrill, 1978. "Empirical Tests of the Life Cycle Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(4), pages 547-60, September.
  10. Diamond, P. A., 1977. "A framework for social security analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 275-298, December.
  11. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 630-49, November.
  12. 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.
  13. E. Sheshinski & Y. Wiess, 1978. "Uncertainty and Optimal Social Security Systems," Working papers 225, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  14. Barro, Robert J. & Friedman, James W., 1977. "On Uncertain Lifetimes," Scholarly Articles 3451301, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  15. Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1979. "Testing the Theory of Social Security and Life Cycle Accumulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 396-410, June.
  16. Farber, Henry S, 1978. "Individual Preferences and Union Wage Determination: The Case of the United Mine Workers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 923-42, October.
  17. Wilson, Charles, 1977. "A model of insurance markets with incomplete information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 167-207, December.
  18. Michael D. Hurd & John B. Shoven, 1983. "The Distributional Impact of Social Security," NBER Working Papers 1155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Edward P. Lazear, 1985. "Incentive Effects of Pensions," NBER Chapters, in: Pensions, Labor, and Individual Choice, pages 253-282 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Menchik, Paul L & David, Martin, 1983. "Income Distribution, Lifetime Savings, and Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 672-90, September.
  21. Leimer, Dean R & Lesnoy, Selig D, 1982. "Social Security and Private Saving: New Time-Series Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(3), pages 606-29, June.
  22. Philip Cagan, 1965. "The Effect of Pension Plans on Aggregate Saving: Evidence from a Sample Survey," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number caga65-2, July.
  23. Eckstein, Zvi & Eichenbaum, Martin & Peled, Dan, 1985. "Uncertain lifetimes and the welfare enhancing properties of annuity markets and social security," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 303-326, April.
  24. Mervyn A. King & Louis Dicks-Mireaux, 1981. "Asset Holdings and the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 0614, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. 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.
  26. Mirer, Thad W, 1979. "The Wealth-Age Relation among the Aged," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 435-43, June.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Willman, Alpo, 2007. "Sequential optimization, front-loaded information, and U.S. consumption," Working Paper Series 0765, European Central Bank.
  3. Michael D. Hurd, 1987. "The Marginal Value of Social Security," NBER Working Papers 2411, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Brown, Jeffrey R., 2001. "Private pensions, mortality risk, and the decision to annuitize," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 29-62, October.
  5. R. Glenn Hubbard & Kenneth L. Judd, 1987. "Finite Lifetimes, Borrowing Constraints, and Short-Run Fiscal Policy," NBER Working Papers 2158, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Michael D. Hurd, 1987. "The Poverty of Widows: Future Prospects," NBER Working Papers 2326, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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