Expectations, Life Expectancy, and Economic Behavior
Unlike price expectations, which are central to macroeconomic theory and have been examined extensively using survey data, formation of individuals' horizons, which are central to the theory of life-cycle behavior, have been completely neglected. This is especially surprising since life expectancy of adults has increased especially rapidly in Western countries in the past ten years. This study presents the results of analyzing responses by two groups--economists and a random sample--to a questionnaire designed to elicit subjective expectations and probabilities of survival. It shows that people do not extrapolate past improvements in longevity when they determine their subjective horizons, though they are fully aware of levels of and movements within today's life tables. They skew subjective survival probabilities in a way that implies the subjective distribution has greater variance than its actuarial counterpart; and the subjective variance decreases with age. They also base their subjective horizons disproportionately on their relatives' longevity, and long-lived relatives increase uncertainty about the distribution of subjective survival probabilities. As one example of the many areas of life-cycle behavior to which the results are applicable, the study examines the consumption-leisure choices of the optimizing consumer over his lifetime. It finds that shortfalls in utility in old age because people's ex ante horizons had to be updated as -- average longevity increased are relatively small. This implies that large subsidies to retirees under today's Social Security system cannot be justified as compensation for an unexpectedly long retirement for which they failed to save.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Volume (Year): 100 (1985)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://mitpress.mit.edu/journals/|
|Order Information:||Web: http://mitpress.mit.edu/journal-home.tcl?issn=00335533|
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Levhari, David & Mirman, Leonard J, 1977. "Savings and Consumption with an Uncertain Horizon," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(2), pages 265-81, April.
- Turnovsky, Stephen J & Wachter, Michael L, 1972.
"A Test of the "Expectations Hypothesis" Using Directly Observed Wage and Price Expectations,"
The Review of Economics and Statistics,
MIT Press, vol. 54(1), pages 47-54, February.
- Stephen J. Turnovsky & Michael L. Wachter, 1971. "A test of the "expectations hypothesis" using directly observed wage and price expectations," Staff Studies 63, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002.
Handbook of Public Economics,
in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324
- Lawrence Kotlikoff & Avia Spivak & Lawrence H. Summers, 1980.
"The Adequacy of Savings,"
Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers
569, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1982.
"Social Insurance and Consumption: An Empirical Inquiry,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 101-13, March.
- Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1980. "Social Insurance and Consumption: An Empirical Inquiry," NBER Working Papers 0600, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jonung, Lars, 1981. "Perceived and Expected Rates of Inflation in Sweden," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 961-68, December.
- Arthur, W B, 1981. "The Economics of Risks to Life," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(1), pages 54-64, March.
- Davies, James B, 1981. "Uncertain Lifetime, Consumption, and Dissaving in Retirement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(3), pages 561-77, June.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:100:y:1985:i:2:p:389-408. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Anna Pollock-Nelson)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.