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Why Don’t People Insure Late-Life Consumption? A Framing Explanation of the Under-Annuitization Puzzle

Author

Listed:
  • Jeffrey R. Brown
  • Jeffrey R. Kling
  • Sendhil Mullainathan
  • Marian V. Wrobel

Abstract

Rational models of risk-averse consumers have difficulty explaining limited annuity demand. We posit that consumers evaluate annuity products using a narrow "investment frame" that focuses on risk and return, rather than a "consumption frame" that considers the consequences for lifelong consumption. Under an investment frame, annuities are quite unattractive, exhibiting high risk without high returns. Survey evidence supports this hypothesis: whereas 72 percent of respondents prefer a life annuity over a savings account when the choice is framed in terms of consumption, only 21 percent of respondents prefer it when the choice is framed in terms of investment features.
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Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey R. Brown & Jeffrey R. Kling & Sendhil Mullainathan & Marian V. Wrobel, 2008. "Why Don’t People Insure Late-Life Consumption? A Framing Explanation of the Under-Annuitization Puzzle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 304-309, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:98:y:2008:i:2:p:304-09 Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.98.2.304
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jeffrey R. Brown & Jeffrey R. Kling & Sendhil Mullainathan & Marian V. Wrobel, 2008. "Why Don’t People Insure Late-Life Consumption? A Framing Explanation of the Under-Annuitization Puzzle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 304-309.
    2. Richard H. Thaler, 2008. "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(1), pages 15-25, 01-02.
    3. Jeffrey R. Brown & Jeffrey R. Kling & Sendhil Mullainathan & Marian V. Wrobel, 2008. "Why Don’t People Insure Late-Life Consumption? A Framing Explanation of the Under-Annuitization Puzzle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 304-309.
    4. Read, Daniel & Loewenstein, George & Rabin, Matthew, 1999. "Choice Bracketing," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 171-197, December.
    5. Robert B. Barsky & F. Thomas Juster & Miles S. Kimball & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-579.
    6. Jeffrey R. Brown, 2007. "Rational and Behavioral Perspectives on the Role of Annuities in Retirement Planning," NBER Working Papers 13537, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies

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