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Should you Take a Lump-Sum or Annuitize? Results from Swiss Pension Funds

  • Monika Buetler
  • Federica Teppa

We use a unique dataset on individual retirement decisions in Swiss pension funds to analyze the choice between an annuity and a lump sum at retirement. Our analysis suggests the existence of an “acquiescence bias”, meaning that a majority of retirees chooses the standard option offered by the pensions fund or suggested by common practice. Small levels of accumulated pension capital are much more likely to be withdrawn as a lump sum, suggesting a potential moral hazard behavior or a magnitude effect. We hardly find evidence for adverse selection effects in the data. Single men, for example, whose money’s worth of an annuity is considerably below the corresponding value of married men, are not more likely to choose the capital option.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2005/wp-cesifo-2005-11/cesifo1_wp1610.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 1610.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1610
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  1. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1982. "Expectations, Life Expectancy, and Economic Behavior," NBER Working Papers 0835, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Elsa Fornero & Elisa Luciano (ed.), 2004. "Developing an Annuity Market in Europe," Books, Edward Elgar, number 3181, July.
  3. Estelle James & Xue Song, 2001. "Annuities Markets Around the World: Money’s Worth and Risk Intermediation," CeRP Working Papers 16, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
  4. Hurd, Michael & Panis, Constantijn, 2006. "The choice to cash out pension rights at job change or retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(12), pages 2213-2227, December.
  5. Hurd, Michael D, 1999. "Anchoring and Acquiescence Bias in Measuring Assets in Household Surveys," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 111-36, December.
  6. Carroll, Christopher D. & Samwick, Andrew A., 1997. "The nature of precautionary wealth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 41-71, September.
  7. Jeffrey R. Brown, 2003. "Redistribution and Insurance: Mandatory Annuitization With Mortality Heterogeneity," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 70(1), pages 17-41.
  8. Loewenstein, George, 1987. "Anticipation and the Valuation of Delayed Consumption," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(387), pages 666-84, September.
  9. Deaton, Angus, 1991. "Saving and Liquidity Constraints," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(5), pages 1221-48, September.
  10. Thomas Davidoff & Jeffrey R. Brown & Peter A. Diamond, 2005. "Annuities and Individual Welfare," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1573-1590, December.
  11. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 2001. "The Empirical Importance of Precautionary Saving," NBER Working Papers 8107, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Saul Pleeter & John T. Warner, 2001. "The Personal Discount Rate: Evidence from Military Downsizing Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 33-53, March.
  13. Butler, Monika & Ruesch, Martin, 2007. "Annuities in Switzerland," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4438, The World Bank.
  14. Samwick, Andrew A., 1998. "Discount rate heterogeneity and social security reform," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 117-146, October.
  15. Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
  16. Queisser, Monika & Vittas, Dimitri, 2000. "The Swiss multi-pillar pension system : triumph of common sense?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2416, The World Bank.
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