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The Drawdown of Personal Retirement Assets

Author

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  • Poterba, James M.

    (NBER)

  • Venti, Steven F.

    (Dartmouth College)

  • Wise, David A.

    (Harvard Kennedy School)

Abstract

How households draw down the balances that they accumulate in retirement saving accounts such as 401(k) plans and Individual Retirement Accounts can have an important effect on the contribution of these accounts to retirement income security. This paper presents evidence on the pattern of withdrawals at different ages. We find a relatively modest rate of withdrawals prior to the age at which households are required to take minimum required distributions. Only seven percent of PRA-owning households between the ages of 60 and 69 take annual distributions of more than ten percent of their PRA balance, and only 18 percent of PRA households in this age group make any withdrawals in a typical year. The rate of distributions rises sharply after age 70 1/2, when minimum distributions are required. The proportion of PRA-owning households making a withdrawal jumps to over 60 percent by age 71, and crosses 70 percent a few years later. On average, households age 60 to 69 with PRA accounts withdraw only about two percent of their account balances each year, considerably less than the rate of return on account balances during our sample period. Even at older ages--after the required minimum distribution age--the percentage of balances withdrawn remains at about five percent.

Suggested Citation

  • Poterba, James M. & Venti, Steven F. & Wise, David A., 2011. "The Drawdown of Personal Retirement Assets," Working Paper Series rwp11-006, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp11-006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Love, David A. & Palumbo, Michael G. & Smith, Paul A., 2009. "The trajectory of wealth in retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-2), pages 191-208, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gustman, Alan L. & Steinmeier, Thomas L. & Tabatabai, Nahid, 2014. "Mismeasurement of pensions before and after retirement: the mystery of the disappearing pensions with implications for the importance of Social Security as a source of retirement support," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(01), pages 1-26, January.
    2. Rawley Z. Heimer & Kristian Ove R. Myrseth & Raphael S. Schoenle, 2015. "YOLO: Mortality Beliefs and Household Finance Puzzles," Working Papers 97, Brandeis University, Department of Economics and International Businesss School.
    3. James M. Poterba, 2014. "Retirement Security in an Aging Society," NBER Working Papers 19930, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Raphael Schoenle & Kristian Ove Myrseth & Rawley Heimer, 2016. "YOLO: Mortality Beliefs and Household Finance Puzzles," 2016 Meeting Papers 661, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Marekwica, Marcel & Schaefer, Alexander & Sebastian, Steffen, 2013. "Life cycle asset allocation in the presence of housing and tax-deferred investing," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 1110-1125.
    6. James Poterba & Steven Venti & David Wise, 2011. "The Composition and Drawdown of Wealth in Retirement," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 95-118, Fall.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

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