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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.

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Article provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its journal Fiscal Studies.

Volume (Year): 22 (2001)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 249-270.

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Handle: RePEc:ifs:fistud:v:22:y:2001:i:3:p:249-270.
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  1. Orazio P. Attanasio & Carl Emmerson, 2001. "Differential Mortality in the UK," NBER Working Papers 8241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jeffrey R. Brown & Olivia S. Mitchell & James M. Poterba, 1999. "The Role of Real Annuities and Indexed Bonds in an Individual Accounts Retirement Program," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 99-18, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  3. 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.
  4. Friedman, Benjamin M & Warshawsky, Mark J, 1990. "The Cost of Annuities: Implications for Saving Behavior and Bequests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 135-54, February.
  5. 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.
  6. David Blake, 1999. "Annuity Markets: Problems and Solutions," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 24(3), pages 358-375, July.
  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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