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Optimal Annuitization with Stochastic Mortality Probabilities

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  • Felix Reichling
  • Kent Smetters

Abstract

The conventional wisdom dating back to Yaari (1965) is that households without a bequest motive should fully annuitize their investments. Numerous market frictions do not break this sharp result. We modify the Yaari framework by allowing a household's mortality risk itself to be stochastic. Annuities still help to hedge longevity risk, but they are now subject to valuation risk. Valuation risk is a powerful gateway mechanism for numerous frictions to reduce annuity demand, even without ad hoc “liquidity constraints.” We find that most households should not annuitize any wealth. The optimal level of aggregate net annuity holdings is likely even negative.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19211.

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Date of creation: Jul 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19211

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  1. Peter Townley & Robin Boadway, 1986. "Social Security and the Failure of Annuity Markets," Working Papers 652, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  2. 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.
  3. Cassio M. Turra & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2004. "The Impact of Health Status and Out-of-Pocket Medical Expenditures on Annuity Valuation," Working Papers wp086, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  4. Gina Luca Clementi & Hugo A Hopenhayn, 2006. "A Theory of Financing Constraints and Firm Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(1), pages 229-265, 02.
  5. Palumbo, Michael G, 1999. "Uncertain Medical Expenses and Precautionary Saving Near the End of the Life Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(2), pages 395-421, April.
  6. John Karl Scholz & Ananth Seshadri & Surachai Khitatrakun, 2004. "Are Americans Saving "Optimally" for Retirement?," NBER Working Papers 10260, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Amy Finkelstein & James Poterba, 2000. "Adverse Selection in Insurance Markets: Policyholder Evidence from the U.K. Annuity Market," NBER Working Papers 8045, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Shinichi Nishiyama, 2002. "Bequests, Inter Vivos Transfers, and Wealth Distribution," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 892-931, October.
  9. Eytan Sheshinski, 2007. "Introduction to The Economic Theory of Annuities
    [The Economic Theory of Annuities]
    ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
  10. Eytan Sheshinski, 2007. "The Economic Theory of Annuities," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 8536.
  11. Modigliani, Franco, 1986. "Life Cycle, Individual Thrift, and the Wealth of Nations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 297-313, June.
  12. Kenneth L. Judd, 1998. "Numerical Methods in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262100711, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Jeffrey R. Brown & Jeffrey R. Kling & Sendhil Mullainathan & Marian V. Wrobel, 2013. "Framing Lifetime Income," NBER Working Papers 19063, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jeffrey R. Brown & Arie Kapteyn & Erzo F.P. Luttmer & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2013. "Decision Complexity as a Barrier to Annuitization," NBER Working Papers 19168, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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