IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/aea/jecper/v25y2011i4p143-64.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Annuitization Puzzles

Author

Listed:
  • Shlomo Benartzi
  • Alessandro Previtero
  • Richard H. Thaler

Abstract

In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech given in 1985, Franco Modigliani drew attention to the "annuitization puzzle": that annuity contracts, other than pensions through group insurance, are extremely rare. Rational choice theory predicts that households will find annuities attractive at the onset of retirement because they address the risk of outliving one's income, but in fact, relatively few of those facing retirement choose to annuitize a substantial portion of their wealth. There is now a substantial literature on the behavioral economics of retirement saving, which has stressed that both behavioral and institutional factors play an important role in determining a household's saving accumulations. Self-control problems, inertia, and a lack of financial sophistication inhibit some households from providing an adequate retirement nest egg. However, interventions such as automatic enrollment and automatic escalation of saving over time as wages rise (the "save more tomorrow" plan) have shown success in overcoming these obstacles. We will show that the same behavioral and institutional factors that help explain savings behavior are also important in understanding 1) how families handle the process of decumulation once retirement commences and 2) why there seems to be so little demand to annuitize wealth at retirement.

Suggested Citation

  • Shlomo Benartzi & Alessandro Previtero & Richard H. Thaler, 2011. "Annuitization Puzzles," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 143-164, Fall.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:25:y:2011:i:4:p:143-64 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.25.4.143
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.25.4.143
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/jep/app/2504_Benzarti_app.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    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. Luc Behaghel & David M. Blau, 2012. "Framing Social Security Reform: Behavioral Responses to Changes in the Full Retirement Age," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, pages 41-67.
    3. repec:aei:rpbook:24949 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. 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.
    5. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & Steven Laufer & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, 2007. "The Joy of Giving or Assisted Living? Using Strategic Surveys to Separate Bequest and Precautionary Motives," NBER Working Papers 13105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    7. David A. Wise, 2004. "Introduction to "Perspectives on the Economics of Aging"," NBER Chapters,in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 1-16 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. "Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
    9. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-1348, December.
    10. John Chalmers & Jonathan Reuter, 2012. "How Do Retirees Value Life Annuities? Evidence from Public Employees," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 25(8), pages 2601-2634.
    11. Saul Pleeter & John T. Warner, 2001. "The Personal Discount Rate: Evidence from Military Downsizing Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 33-53.
    12. Andrew G. Biggs, 2011. "Social Security," Books, American Enterprise Institute, number 6033.
    13. David A. Wise, 2004. "Perspectives on the Economics of Aging," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number wise04-1.
    14. Lee Lockwood, 2012. "Bequest Motives and the Annuity Puzzle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 15(2), pages 226-243, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:25:y:2011:i:4:p:143-64. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros) or (Michael P. Albert). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.