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Asynchronous Risk: Unemployment, Equity Markets, and Retirement Savings

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  • Jason S. Seligman

    ()
    (University of Georgia)

  • Jeffrey B. Wenger

    (University of Georgia)

Abstract

The link between unemployment and pension accumulations is conceptually straightforward; periods of unemployment lead to lower pension contributions, and thus to lower accumulations. However, impacts on accumulation may differ as a result of the timing and frequency of unemployment spells. We hypothesize that unemployment is more likely during periods in which the equities market experiences greater than average returns, largely due to a lead/lag structure of the stock and labor markets, respectively. This would imply that workers may systematically miss opportunities to purchase equities through DC plans when prices are relatively low. To test this hypothesis, we match historic stock returns to stochastically generated unemployment spells for men and women across the earnings distribution. We find lower income workers suffer greater percentage losses in retirement savings as a result of more frequent spells of unemployment. Higher income worker losses are more greatly affected by the timing of unemployment relative to the equities market.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in its series Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles with number 05-114.

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Date of creation: May 2005
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Handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:05-114

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Keywords: Unemployment; retirement; savings; defined contribution; pensions; earnings distribution;

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  1. Burman, Leonard E. & Coe, Norma B. & Gale, William G., 1999. "Lump Sum Distributions from Pension Plans: Recent Evidence and Issues for Policy and Research," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 3), pages 553-62, September.
  2. Hurd, Michael D, 1989. "Mortality Risk and Bequests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 779-813, July.
  3. Gomes, Francisco J & Michaelides, Alexander, 2003. "Portfolio Choice with Internal Habit Formation: A Life-Cycle Model with Uninsurable Labour Income Risk," CEPR Discussion Papers 3868, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1996. "Personal Retirement Saving Programs and Asset Accumulation: Reconciling the Evidence," NBER Working Papers 5599, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jeffrey R. Brown, 1999. "Are the Elderly Really Over-Annuitized? New Evidence on Life Insurance and Bequests," NBER Working Papers 7193, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. repec:fth:latrob:97.22 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. John Y. Campbell & Joao F. Cocco & Francisco J. Gomes & Pascal J. Maenhout, 1999. "Investing Retirement Wealth: A Life-Cycle Model," NBER Working Papers 7029, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. repec:ltr:wpaper:1997.22 is not listed on IDEAS
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