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Annuity markets and retirement security


  • James M. Poterba


The growing importance of defined contribution pension arrangements has drawn increased attention to the means by which retired people draw down their assets. Current UK law requires annuitisation of at least a fraction of defined contribution plan accumulations. Annuity markets have recently attracted some criticism with respect to pricing and the available range of product options. This paper describes a key feature of voluntary annuity markets: the presence of ‘adverse selection’. This is the tendency of annuitants to live longer than non-annuitants, since individuals who know that they are likely to die soon do not purchase annuities. The paper presents information that quantifies the importance of adverse selection in the setting of private annuity prices and discusses the role of compulsory annuitisation requirements in reducing it. Requiring individuals to participate in the annuity market can reduce selection effects, at the cost of reducing individuals’ range of retirement income options.

Suggested Citation

  • James M. Poterba, 2001. "Annuity markets and retirement security," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 22(3), pages 249-270., September.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:fistud:v:22:y:2001:i:3:p:249-270.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
    2. Orazio P. Attanasio & Carl Emmerson, 2001. "Differential Mortality in the UK," NBER Working Papers 8241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Jeffrey R. Brown & Olivia S. Mitchell & James M. Poterba, 2001. "The Role of Real Annuities and Indexed Bonds in an Individual Accounts Retirement Program," NBER Chapters,in: Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 321-370 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. David Blake, 1999. "Annuity Markets: Problems and Solutions," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 24(3), pages 358-375, July.
    5. Benjamin M. Friedman & Mark J. Warshawsky, 1990. "The Cost of Annuities: Implications for Saving Behavior and Bequests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 135-154.
    6. Olivia S. Mitchell, 2001. "Developments in Decumulation: The Role of Annuity Products in Financing Retirement," NBER Working Papers 8567, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Benjamin M. Friedman & Mark Warshawsky, 1985. "The Cost of Annuities: Implications for Saving Behavior and Bequests," NBER Working Papers 1682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Suzanne Doyle & Olivia S. Mitchell & John Piggott, 2001. "Annuity Values in Defined Contribution Retirement Systems: The Case of Singapore and Australia," NBER Working Papers 8091, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ian Tonks, 2003. "(UBS Pensions series 8) UK Annuity Rates and Pension Replacement Ratios 1957 - 2002," FMG Discussion Papers dp444, Financial Markets Group.
    2. Cannon, Edmund & Tonks, Ian, 2003. "UK annuity rates and pension replacement ratios 1957-2002," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 24832, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Ferro, Gustavo, 2008. "Un impulso al mercado de rentas vitalicias en España
      [Promoting the annuities market in Spain]
      ," MPRA Paper 20211, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jul 2008.
    4. Ferro, Gustavo, 2008. "On annuities: an overview of the issues," MPRA Paper 20209, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Oct 2009.
    5. Arnaud Van Bellingen, 2007. "Quelles perspectives de développement pour le marché des annuités?," CREPP Working Papers 0701, Centre de Recherche en Economie Publique et de la Population (CREPP) (Research Center on Public and Population Economics) HEC-Management School, University of Liège.
    6. Sanders, E.A.T., 2011. "Annuity market imperfections," Other publications TiSEM 227f9684-ccba-4646-99bc-3, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    7. Dr Martin Weale & Dr Justin van de Ven, 2006. "A General Equilibrium Analysis of Annuity Rates in the Presence of Aggregate Mortality Risk," National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) Discussion Papers 282, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
    8. Oded Palmon & Avia Spivak, 2007. "Adverse selection and the market for annuities," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance Theory, Springer;International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics (The Geneva Association), vol. 32(1), pages 37-59, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions


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