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Portfolio Allocation in the Face of a Means-Tested Public Pension


  • Deborah A. Cobb-Clark
  • Vincent Hildebrand


Is there evidence that households adjust their asset portfolios just prior to retirement in response to a means-tested public pension? We address this question by estimating a system of asset equations constrained to add up to net worth. We find little evidence that in 2006 healthy households or couples responded to the incentives embedded in the means test determining pension eligibility by reallocating their assets. While there are some significant differences in asset portfolios associated with being near the income threshold, being of pensionable age, and being in poor health these differences are often only marginally significant, are not robust across time, and are not clearly consistent with the incentives inherent in the pension eligibility rules. In 2006, any behavioral response to the means test seems to occur among single pensioners in poor health. Comparison with 2002 results suggests the incentives to reallocate assets may have weakened over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Vincent Hildebrand, 2009. "Portfolio Allocation in the Face of a Means-Tested Public Pension," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 260, McMaster University.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:sedapp:260

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sang-Wook (Stanley) Cho & Renuka Sane, 2014. "Means-tested Age-Pension and Saving," Discussion Papers 2014-03, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.

    More about this item


    asset portfolios; means testing; public pension; household wealth;

    JEL classification:

    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

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