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Made poorer by choice: Worker outcomes in social security vs. private retirement accounts

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  • Ahmed, Javed
  • Barber, Brad M.
  • Odean, Terrance

Abstract

Can the freedom to choose how retirement funds are invested leave workers worse off? Via simulation, we document that choice in stock v. bond allocation and type of equity investments in private accounts leads to lower utility and greater risk of income shortfalls relative to private accounts without choice. We also compare private account outcomes to currently promised Social Security benefits to demonstrate that a representative worker (an average wage earner) benefits more from private-account alternatives—with or without choice—than do most workers. Thus, representative worker outcome should not be used to assess population-wide benefits of private account alternatives.

Suggested Citation

  • Ahmed, Javed & Barber, Brad M. & Odean, Terrance, 2018. "Made poorer by choice: Worker outcomes in social security vs. private retirement accounts," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 311-322.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbfina:v:92:y:2018:i:c:p:311-322
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jbankfin.2016.08.003
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    1. Gomes, Francisco J & Haliassos, Michael & Ramadorai, Tarun, 2020. "Household Finance," CEPR Discussion Papers 14502, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. COMANICIU Carmen, 2017. "Social Security Contributions In The European Union - Similarities And Differences," Revista Economica, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Faculty of Economic Sciences, vol. 69(5), pages 22-34, December.

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