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Differentiated Annuities in a Pooling Equilibrium

  • Eytan Sheshinski


Regular annuities provide payment for the duration of an owner's lifetime. Period-Certain annuities provide additional payment after death to a beneficiary provided the insured dies within a certain period after annuitization. It has been argued that the bequest option offered by the latter is dominated by life insurance which provides non-random bequests. This is correct if competitive annuity and life insurance markets have full information about individual longevities. In contrast, this paper shows that when individual longevities are private information, a competitive pooling equilibrium which offers annuities at common prices to all individuals may have positive amounts of both types of annuities in addition to life insurance. In this equilibrium, individuals self-select the types of annuities that they purchase according to their longevity prospects. The break-even price of each type of annuity reflects the average longevity of its buyers. The broad conclusion that emerges from this paper is that adverse-selection due to asymmetric information is reflected not only in the amounts of insurance purchased but, importantly, also in the choice of insurance products suitable for different individual characteristics. This con- clusion is supported by recent empirical work about the UK annuity market (Finkelstein and Poterba (2004)).

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Paper provided by The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem in its series Discussion Paper Series with number dp433.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2005
Date of revision: Aug 2006
Handle: RePEc:huj:dispap:dp433
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  1. Brugiavini, Agar, 1993. "Uncertainty resolution and the timing of annuity purchases," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 31-62, January.
  2. Thomas Davidoff & Jeffrey R. Brown & Peter A. Diamond, 2005. "Annuities and Individual Welfare," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1573-1590, December.
  3. Amy Finkelstein & James Poterba, 2000. "Adverse Selection in Insurance Markets: Policyholder Evidence from the U.K. Annuity Market," NBER Working Papers 8045, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Andrew B. Abel, 1985. "Capital Accumulation and Uncertain Lifetimes with Adverse Selection," NBER Working Papers 1664, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
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