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Are annuities value for money?: who can afford them?

  • Paula Lopes
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    This paper solves an empirically parameterized model of households’ optimal demand for nominal and inflation indexed annuities. The model incorporates mortality, inflation, and real interest rate risk. The model draws some interesting predictions. First, the welfare calculations on the access to annuities markets show that nominal annuities are welfare improving even when sold at the empirically parameterized cost, which is above fair value. Real annuities are welfare improving over nominal annuities when sold at a fair price, but when we incorporate the empirically parameterized annuity premium the gains become negative at all wealth levels. Second, the simulation of the model for the British population wealth distribution shows that an important explanation for the little interest in annuities comes from the fact that annuities are extremely expensive, compared with the total accumulated assets held by households. In other words many households can not afford even to enter the annuity market. The paper also compares the simulated annuity demand to the actual demands reported in the Family Resources Survey. For those individuals who buy annuities, the simulated demands are not very different from those observed in the survey.

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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/24899/
    File Function: Open access version.
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    Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 24899.

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    Length: 31 pages
    Date of creation: Nov 2003
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:24899
    Contact details of provider: Postal: LSE Library Portugal Street London, WC2A 2HD, U.K.
    Phone: +44 (020) 7405 7686
    Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/

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    1. Amy Finkelstein & James Poterba, 1999. "Selection Effects in the Market for Individual Annuities: New Evidence from the United Kingdom," NBER Working Papers 7168, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. John Y. Campbell & Joao F. Cocco, 2002. "Household Risk Management and Optimal Mortgage Choice," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1946, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    3. O. Attanasio & H. W. Hoynes, . "Differential mortality and wealth accumulation," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1079-96, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    4. Amy Finkelstein & James Poterba, 2002. "Selection Effects in the United Kingdom Individual Annuities Market," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(476), pages 28-50, January.
    5. Jeffrey R. Brown, 1999. "Are the Elderly Really Over-Annuitized? New Evidence on Life Insurance and Bequests," NBER Working Papers 7193, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Jeffrey R. Brown & Olivia S. Mitchell & James M. Poterba, 1999. "The Role of Real Annuities and Indexed Bonds in an Individual Accounts Retirement Program," NBER Working Papers 7005, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1991. "How Strong Are Bequest Motives? Evidence Based on Estimates of the Demand for Life Insurance and Annuities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 899-927, October.
    8. Benjamin M. Friedman & Mark Warshawsky, 1985. "The Cost of Annuities: Implications for Saving Behavior and Bequests," NBER Working Papers 1682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Lawrence H. Summers, 1980. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation," NBER Working Papers 0445, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Friedman, Benjamin M & Warshawsky, Mark J, 1990. "The Cost of Annuities: Implications for Saving Behavior and Bequests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 135-54, February.
    11. Deaton, A., 1989. "Saving And Liquidity Constraints," Papers 153, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
    12. Tauchen, George & Hussey, Robert, 1991. "Quadrature-Based Methods for Obtaining Approximate Solutions to Nonlinear Asset Pricing Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(2), pages 371-96, March.
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