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Where are the retirement savings of self-employed? An analysis of 'unconventional' retirement accounts


  • Mauro Mastrogiacomo
  • Rob Alessie


Survey data show that many respondents save for retirement in unconventional retirement accounts, such as investments in real estate. In countries where retirement savings are not mandatory for self-employed, representatives of this group often report this as an argument against making retirement savings compulsory. Our study shows that self-employed retirement savings are low and below individually pre-stated saving intentions, even though this group has generally no occupational pension. We also study the relation between the importance of a broad spectrum of saving motives, such as saving for retirement, and saving behavior. We show that finding the retirement motive important does not directly translate in additional retirement savings, both for self-employed and employees. The (median) annuity stream generated by conventional and unconventional accounts from age 67 is small; most savings are residual and are not being put aside for a specific motive.

Suggested Citation

  • Mauro Mastrogiacomo & Rob Alessie, 2015. "Where are the retirement savings of self-employed? An analysis of 'unconventional' retirement accounts," DNB Working Papers 454, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:dnb:dnbwpp:454

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1996. "Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(4), pages 1797-1855, December.
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    3. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio & Terlizzese, Daniele, 1992. "Earnings uncertainty and precautionary saving," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 307-337, November.
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    5. Lusardi, Annamaria, 1997. "Precautionary saving and subjective earnings variance," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 319-326, December.
    6. Mark van Duijn & Maarten Lindeboom & Mauro Mastrogiacomo & M. Lundborg, 2009. "Pension plans and the retirement replacement rates in the Netherlands," CPB Discussion Paper 118, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    7. Groenland, E. A. G. & Bloem, J. G. & Kuylen, A. A. A., 1996. "Prototypicality and structure of the saving concept for consumers," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 17(6), pages 691-708, December.
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    9. Arthur Kennickell & Annamaria Lusardi, 2004. "Disentangling the Importance of the Precautionary Saving Mode," NBER Working Papers 10888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Li, Yue & Mastrogiacomo, Mauro & Hochguertel, Stefan & Bloemen, Hans, 2016. "The role of wealth in the start-up decision of new self-employed: Evidence from a pension policy reform," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 280-290.

    More about this item


    retirement savings; precautionary savings; factor analysis; saving goals;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

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