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Longevity and Aggregate Savings

  • Eytan Sheshinski


Two salient features of modern economic growth are the rise in aggregate savings rates and the steady increase in life expectancy. This paper links these processes, showing that under certain conditions economic theory supports the hypothesis that increased longevity leads to higher aggregate savings in steady state. The analysis is based on a lifecycle model with uncertain longevity in which individuals choose an optimum consumption path and a retirement age. Conditions on the age-specific pattern of improvements in survival probabilities are shown to ensure that individual savings rise with longevity and that aggregation preserves this result. Population theory (Coale (1972)) is used to link the steady-state age density function and the population's growth rate to individuals' survival probabilities. The importance of a competitive annuity market in avoiding unintended bequests is underscored.

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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 dp519.

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Date of creation: Sep 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:huj:dispap:dp519
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  1. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Bryan Graham, 2002. "Longevity and Life Cycle Savings," NBER Working Papers 8808, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Peter Lorentzen & John McMillan & Romain Wacziarg, 2008. "Death and development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 81-124, June.
  3. Miles, David K, 1997. "Modelling the Impact of Demographic Change Upon the Economy," CEPR Discussion Papers 1762, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. David M. Cutler, 2004. "Are the Benefits of Medicine Worth What We Pay for It? 15th Annual Herbert Lourie Memorial Lecture on Health Policy," Center for Policy Research Policy Briefs 27, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
  5. 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.
  6. Wojciech Kopczuk & Joseph P. Lupton, 2007. "To Leave or Not to Leave: The Distribution of Bequest Motives," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(1), pages 207-235.
  7. Ronald D Lee & Andrew Mason & Tim Miller, 1998. "Saving, Wealth, and Population," Working Papers 199805, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
  8. Tomas J. Philipson & Gary S. Becker, 1998. "Old-Age Longevity and Mortality-Contingent Claims," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(3), pages 551-573, June.
  9. Eytan Sheshinski, 2006. "Note on Longevity and Aggregate Savings," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 108(2), pages 353-356, 07.
  10. Eytan Sheshinski, 2007. "The Economic Theory of Annuities," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 8536.
  11. Zilcha, Itzhak & Friedman, Joseph, 1985. "Saving behavior in retirement when life horizon is uncertain," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 63-66.
  12. Kinugasa, Tomoko & Mason, Andrew, 2007. "Why Countries Become Wealthy: The Effects of Adult Longevity on Saving," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 1-23, January.
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