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Life Is Cheap: Using Mortality Bonds to Hedge Aggregate Mortality Risk

Author

Listed:
  • Friedberg Leora

    () (University of Virginia)

  • Webb Anthony

    () (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)

Abstract

Insurance companies, employer pension plans, and the U.S. government all provide annuities and therefore assume aggregate mortality risk. Using the widely-cited Lee-Carter mortality model, we quantify aggregate mortality risk as the risk that the average annuitant lives longer than is predicted by the model, and we determine that annuities expose providers to substantial risk. We also find that other recent actuarial forecasts lie at the edge or outside of Lee-Carter's 95% confidence interval, suggesting even more uncertainty about future mortality.We then evaluate the implications of aggregate mortality risk for insurance companies; this analysis can be extended to private pension providers and Social Security. Given the forecasts of the Lee-Carter model, we calculate that a markup of 3.9% on an annuity premium (or shareholders' capital equal to 3.9% of the expected present value of annuity payments) would be required to reduce the probability of insolvency resulting from aggregate mortality shocks to 5%, and a markup of 5.7% would reduce the probability of insolvency to 1%. Based on the same model, we find that a projection scale commonly referred to by the insurance industry underestimates aggregate mortality improvements and would leave annuities underpriced.Annuity providers could manage aggregate mortality risk more efficiently by transferring it to financial markets through mortality-contingent bonds. We calculate the returns that one recently proposed mortality bond would have paid had it been available over a long period. Using both the Capital and the Consumption Capital Asset Pricing Models, we determine the risk premium that investors would have required to hold the bond. At plausible coefficients of risk aversion, annuity providers should be able to hedge aggregate mortality risk via such bonds at very low cost.

Suggested Citation

  • Friedberg Leora & Webb Anthony, 2007. "Life Is Cheap: Using Mortality Bonds to Hedge Aggregate Mortality Risk," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-33, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:7:y:2007:i:1:n:31
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Plisson, Manuel, 2009. "Assurabilité et développement de l'assurance dépendance," Economics Thesis from University Paris Dauphine, Paris Dauphine University, number 123456789/5064 edited by Lorenzi, Jean-Hervé.
    2. Justin van de Ven & Martin Weale, 2007. "Annuities and Aggregate Mortality Uncertainty," WEF Working Papers 0027, ESRC World Economy and Finance Research Programme, Birkbeck, University of London.
    3. Jeffrey R. Brown & Amy Finkelstein, 2007. "Why Is the Market or Long-term Care Insurance So Small?," NBER Chapters,in: Public Policy and Retirement, Trans-Atlantic Public Economics Seminar (TAPES), pages 1967-1991 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. David Blake & Christophe Courbage & Richard MacMinn & Michael Sherris, 2011. "Longevity Risk and Capital Markets: The 2010–2011 Update," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 36(4), pages 489-500, October.
    5. Coughlan, Guy & Khalaf-Allah, Marwa & Ye, Yijing & Kumar, Sumit & Cairns, Andrew & Blake, David & Dowd, Kevin, 2011. "Longevity hedging 101: A framework for longevity basis risk analysis and hedge effectiveness," MPRA Paper 35743, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. repec:cup:jfinqa:v:52:y:2017:i:05:p:2251-2275_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Bauer, Daniel & Börger, Matthias & Ruß, Jochen, 2010. "On the pricing of longevity-linked securities," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 139-149, February.
    8. Blake, David & Brockett, Patrick & Cox, Samuel & MacMinn, Richard, 2011. "Longevity risk and capital markets: The 2009-2010 update," MPRA Paper 28868, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Bisetti, Emilio & Favero, Carlo A. & Nocera, Giacomo & Tebaldi, Claudio, 2017. "A Multivariate Model of Strategic Asset Allocation with Longevity Risk," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(05), pages 2251-2275, October.
    10. Olivia S Mitchell & John Piggott & Michael Sherris & Shaun Yow, 2006. "Financial Innovation for an Ageing World," RBA Annual Conference Volume,in: Christopher Kent & Anna Park & Daniel Rees (ed.), Demography and Financial Markets Reserve Bank of Australia.
    11. Gong, Guan & Webb, Anthony, 2010. "Evaluating the Advanced Life Deferred Annuity -- An annuity people might actually buy," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 210-221, February.
    12. Chen, Bingzheng & Zhang, Lihong & Zhao, Lin, 2010. "On the robustness of longevity risk pricing," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 358-373, December.
    13. David Blake & Andrew Cairns & Guy Coughlan & Kevin Dowd & Richard MacMinn, 2013. "The New Life Market," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 80(3), pages 501-558, September.
    14. Post Thomas, 2012. "Individual Welfare Gains from Deferred Life-Annuities under Stochastic Mortality," Asia-Pacific Journal of Risk and Insurance, De Gruyter, vol. 6(2), pages 1-26, June.
    15. Guan Gong & Steven A. Sass, 2007. "Evaluating the Advanced Life Deferred Annuity - An Annuity People Might Actually Buy," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2007-15, Center for Retirement Research, revised Sep 2007.
    16. repec:bla:jrinsu:v:84:y:2017:i:1:p:153-175 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

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