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Reference-Dependent Preferences, Time Inconsistency, and Unfunded Pensions

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  • Torben M. Andersen
  • Joydeep Bhattacharya
  • Qing Liu

Abstract

In the real world, public pay-as-you-go pension (PAYG) schemes are popular and co-exist with private, retirement-saving schemes. This is true even in dynamically efficient economies where such pensions offer a lower return. The classic Aaron-Samuelson result argues that, in theory, this is impossible. Later work has shown that it may be possible if agents, left on their own, undersave due to myopia or time-inconsistency. In that case, if the government is paternalistic, a welfare rationale for PAYG pensions arises but only if voluntary retirement saving is fully crowded out because of a binding borrowing constraint. This paper generalizes the Aaron-Samuelson discussion to the reference-dependent utility setup of Kőszegi and Rabin (2009) where undersaving happens naturally. No borrowing constraint is imposed. In this case, it is possible to offer a non-paternalistic, welfare rationale for return-dominated, PAYG pensions to coexist with private retirement saving.

Suggested Citation

  • Torben M. Andersen & Joydeep Bhattacharya & Qing Liu, 2020. "Reference-Dependent Preferences, Time Inconsistency, and Unfunded Pensions," CESifo Working Paper Series 8260, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_8260
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    reference-dependence; crowding-out; pensions; dynamic efficiency;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General

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