IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Risk aversion and the utility of annuities


  • Giacomo Ponzetto

    () (Harvard University)


A well-known result in life-cycle models with uncertain lifetime is that, absent other sources of uncertainty, egoistic agents should annuitize all their wealth. The gain from access to an annuity market, as measured by the increase in non-annuitized wealth required to obtain the same utility level, has repeatedly been shown to be a positive function of risk aversion in expected-utility models. This paper extends the analysis by considering the recursive utility function introduced by Epstein and Zin. By disentangling risk aversion from the elasticity of intertemporal substitution it is shown that the utility value of annuitization is decreasing with both parameters. The classical Yaari result that access to a fair annuity market leads to the same consumption dynamics as in the certainty scenario is also shown to obtain only in the expected-utility case.

Suggested Citation

  • Giacomo Ponzetto, 2003. "Risk aversion and the utility of annuities," CeRP Working Papers 31, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
  • Handle: RePEc:crp:wpaper:31

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bruce I. Carlin & Simon Gervais, 2009. "Legal Protection in Retail Financial Markets," NBER Working Papers 14972, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Neal M. Stoughton & Youchang Wu & Josef Zechner, 2011. "Intermediated Investment Management," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 66(3), pages 947-980, June.
    3. Meier, Stephan & Sprenger, Charles D., 2013. "Discounting financial literacy: Time preferences and participation in financial education programs," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 159-174.
    4. Hackethal, Andreas & Haliassos, Michael & Jappelli, Tullio, 2012. "Financial advisors: A case of babysitters?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 509-524.
    5. Utpal Bhattacharya & Andreas Hackethal & Simon Kaesler & Benjamin Loos & Steffen Meyer, 2012. "Is Unbiased Financial Advice to Retail Investors Sufficient? Answers from a Large Field Study," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 25(4), pages 975-1032.
    6. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2008. "Trusting the Stock Market," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(6), pages 2557-2600, December.
    7. Annamarie Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2005. "Financial Literacy and Planning: Implications for Retirement Wellbeing," Working Papers wp108, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    8. Stefan Boes & Rainer Winkelmann, 2006. "Ordered response models," AStA Advances in Statistical Analysis, Springer;German Statistical Society, vol. 90(1), pages 167-181, March.
    9. Wouter Dessein, 2002. "Authority and Communication in Organizations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 811-838.
    10. van Rooij, Maarten & Lusardi, Annamaria & Alessie, Rob, 2011. "Financial literacy and stock market participation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(2), pages 449-472, August.
    11. Christelis, Dimitris & Jappelli, Tullio & Padula, Mario, 2010. "Cognitive abilities and portfolio choice," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 18-38, January.
    12. Lusardi, Annamaria & Mitchell, Olivia S., 2007. "Baby Boomer retirement security: The roles of planning, financial literacy, and housing wealth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 205-224, January.
    13. Bönte, Werner & Filipiak, Ute, 2012. "Financial literacy, information flows, and caste affiliation: Empirical evidence from India," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 3399-3414.
    14. Angela Hung & Andrew Parker & Joanne K. Yoong, 2009. "Defining and Measuring Financial Literacy," Working Papers 708, RAND Corporation.
    15. Roman Inderst & Marco Ottaviani, 2009. "Misselling through Agents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 883-908, June.
    16. Bolton, Patrick & Freixas, Xavier & Shapiro, Joel, 2007. "Conflicts of interest, information provision, and competition in the financial services industry," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 297-330, August.
    17. Harrison Hong & Jeffrey D. Kubik & Jeremy C. Stein, 2004. "Social Interaction and Stock-Market Participation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(1), pages 137-163, February.
    18. Georgarakos, Dimitris & Inderst, Roman, 2011. "Financial advice and stock market participation," Working Paper Series 1296, European Central Bank.
    19. Sendhil Mullainathan & Markus Noeth & Antoinette Schoar, 2012. "The Market for Financial Advice: An Audit Study," NBER Working Papers 17929, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Adele Atkinson & Flore-Anne Messy, 2012. "Measuring Financial Literacy: Results of the OECD / International Network on Financial Education (INFE) Pilot Study," OECD Working Papers on Finance, Insurance and Private Pensions 15, OECD Publishing.
    21. Lusardi, Annamaria & Mitchell, Olivia S., 2011. "Financial literacy around the world: an overview," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(04), pages 497-508, October.
    22. Dimitris Georgarakos & Giacomo Pasini, 2011. "Trust, Sociability, and Stock Market Participation," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 15(4), pages 693-725.
    23. In-Koo Cho & David M. Kreps, 1987. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(2), pages 179-221.
    24. Luigi Guiso & Tullio Jappelli, 2008. "Financial Literacy and Portfolio Diversification," EIEF Working Papers Series 0812, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Oct 2008.
    25. Duflo, Esther & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "Participation and investment decisions in a retirement plan: the influence of colleagues' choices," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 121-148, July.
    26. Angela A. Hung & Joanne Yoong, 2010. "Asking for Help: Survey And Experimental Evidence on Financial Advice And Behavior Change," Working Papers 714-1, RAND Corporation.
    27. Hackethal, Andreas & Inderst, Roman & Meyer, Steffen, 2010. "Trading on Advice," CEPR Discussion Papers 8091, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    28. Shapira, Zur & Venezia, Itzhak, 2001. "Patterns of behavior of professionally managed and independent investors," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(8), pages 1573-1587, August.
    29. Haliassos, Michael & Bertaut, Carol C, 1995. "Why Do So Few Hold Stocks?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(432), pages 1110-1129, September.
    30. Mitchell Marsden & Cathleen Zick & Robert Mayer, 2011. "The Value of Seeking Financial Advice," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 32(4), pages 625-643, December.
    31. Agnew, Julie R. & Szykman, Lisa R. & Utkus, Stephen P. & Young, Jean A., 2012. "Trust, plan knowledge and 401(k) savings behavior," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(01), pages 1-20, January.
    32. Brad M. Barber & Terrance Odean, 2001. "Boys will be Boys: Gender, Overconfidence, and Common Stock Investment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 261-292.
    33. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-1451, November.
    34. Joël Peress, 2004. "Wealth, Information Acquisition, and Portfolio Choice," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 17(3), pages 879-914.
    35. Inderst, Roman & Ottaviani, Marco, 2012. "How (not) to pay for advice: A framework for consumer financial protection," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 393-411.
    36. Ottaviani, Marco & Sorensen, Peter Norman, 2006. "Professional advice," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 126(1), pages 120-142, January.
    37. Forbes, James & Kara, S. Murat, 2010. "Confidence mediates how investment knowledge influences investing self-efficacy," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 435-443, June.
    38. Daniel Bergstresser & John M. R. Chalmers & Peter Tufano, 2009. "Assessing the Costs and Benefits of Brokers in the Mutual Fund Industry," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(10), pages 4129-4156, October.
    39. Rivers, Douglas & Vuong, Quang H., 1988. "Limited information estimators and exogeneity tests for simultaneous probit models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 347-366, November.
    40. Klapper, Leora & Lusardi, Annamaria & Panos, Georgios A., 2013. "Financial literacy and its consequences: Evidence from Russia during the financial crisis," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(10), pages 3904-3923.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. D'Albis, Hippolyte & Thibault, Emmanuel, 2012. "Ambiguous Life Expectancy and the Demand for Annuities," IDEI Working Papers 731, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    2. Antoine Bommier, Francois Le Grand, "undated". "Too Risk Averse to Purchase Insurance? A Theoretical Glance at the Annuity Puzzle," Working Papers ETH-RC-12-002, ETH Zurich, Chair of Systems Design.
    3. Carlos Vidal-Melia & Ana Lejárraga-García, 2004. "The Bequest Motive And Single People’S Demand For Life Annuities," Public Economics 0405005, EconWPA.

    More about this item


    Annuity market; risk;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:crp:wpaper:31. 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: (Silvia Maero). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.