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Pension Funds’ Asset Allocation and Participant Age: A Test of the Life-Cycle Model

  • Jacob A. Bikker
  • Dirk W. G. A. Broeders
  • David A. Hollanders
  • Eduard H. M. Ponds

This paper examines the impact of participants' age distribution on the asset allocation of Dutch pension funds, using a unique data set of pension fund investment plans for 2007. Theory predicts a negative effect of age on (strategic) equity exposures. We observe that pension funds do indeed take the average age of their participants into account. However, the average age of active participants has been incorporated much more strongly in investment behaviour than the average ages of retired or dormant participants. This suggests that both employers and employees, who dominate pension fund boards, tend to show more interest in active participants. A one-year higher average age in active participants leads to a significant and robust reduction in the strategic equity exposure by around 0.5 percentage point. Larger pension funds show a stronger age-equity exposure effect than smaller pension funds. This age-dependent asset allocation of pension funds aligns with the original life-cycle model by which young workers should invest more in equity than older workers because of their larger human capital. Other factors, viz. fund size, funding ratio, and average pension wealth of participants, influence equity exposure positively and significantly, in line with theory. Pension plan type and pension fund type have no significant impact.

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Article provided by The American Risk and Insurance Association in its journal The Journal of Risk and Insurance.

Volume (Year): 79 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 (09)
Pages: 595-618

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Handle: RePEc:bla:jrinsu:v:79:y:2012:i:3:p:595-618
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  1. J.A. Bikker & D.W.G.A Broeders & J. de Dreu, 2007. "Stock Market Performance and Pension Fund Investment Policy: Rebalancing, Free Float, or Market Timing," Working Papers 07-27, Utrecht School of Economics.
  2. Bikker, Jacob A. & De Dreu, Jan, 2009. "Operating costs of pension funds: the impact of scale, governance, and plan design," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(01), pages 63-89, January.
  3. J. de Dreu & J.A. Bikker, 2009. "Pension fund sophistication and investment policy," Working Papers 09-13, Utrecht School of Economics.
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  6. de Vries, Casper G & Teulings, Coen N, 2004. "Generational Accounting, Solidarity and Pension Losses," CEPR Discussion Papers 4209, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Alestalo, Noora & Puttonen, Vesa, 2006. "Asset allocation in Finnish pension funds," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(01), pages 27-44, March.
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  10. Ponds, E.H.M., 2008. "Naar meer Jong en Oud in Collectieve Pensioenen," Other publications TiSEM a2185565-3ea5-442d-ba67-b, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  11. Jacob A. Bikker & Peter J.G. Vlaar, 2006. "Conditional Indexation in Defined Benefit Pension Plans," DNB Working Papers 086, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  12. Deborah Lucas, 2007. "Valuing & Hedging: Defined Benefit Pension Obligations - The Role of Stocks Revisited," Money Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group Conference 2006 169, Money Macro and Finance Research Group.
  13. Gollier, Christian, 2007. "Intergenerational Risk-Sharing and Risk-Taking of a Pension Fund," IDEI Working Papers 42, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  14. Joao F. Cocco, 2005. "Consumption and Portfolio Choice over the Life Cycle," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 18(2), pages 491-533.
  15. Willem Heeringa, 2008. "Optimal life cycle investment with pay-as-you-go pension schemes: a portfolio approach," DNB Working Papers 168, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  16. Campbell, John Y. & Viceira, Luis M., 2002. "Strategic Asset Allocation: Portfolio Choice for Long-Term Investors," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198296942, March.
  17. Cui, Jiajia & Jong, Frank De & Ponds, Eduard, 2011. "Intergenerational risk sharing within funded pension schemes," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(01), pages 1-29, January.
  18. Ponds, Eduard H. M. & Riel, Bart Van, 2009. "Sharing risk: the Netherlands' new approach to pensions," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(01), pages 91-105, January.
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