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Optimizing the Retirement Portfolio: Asset Allocation, Annuitization, and Risk Aversion

  • Wolfram Horneff

    (Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University of Frankfort)

  • Raimond Maurer

    (Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University of Frankfort)

  • Olivia Mitchell

    (Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Ivica Dus

    (Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University of Frankfort)

Retirees must draw down their accumulated assets in an orderly fashion so as not to exhaust their funds too soon. We derive the optimal retirement portfolio from a menu that includes payout annuities as well as an investment allocation and a withdrawal strategy, assuming risk aversion, stochastic capital markets, and uncertain lifetimes. The resulting portfolio allocation, when fixed as of retirement, is then compared to phased withdrawal strategies such a "self-annuitization" plan or the 401(k) 'default' pattern encouraged under US tax law. Surprisingly, the fixed percentage approach proves appealing for retirees across a wide range of risk preferences, supporting financial planning advisors who often recommend this rule. We then permit the retiree to switch to an annuity later, which gives her the chance to invest in the capital market and "bet on death." As risk aversion rises, annuities first crowd out bonds in retiree portfolios; at higher risk aversion still, annuities replace equities in the portfolio. Making annuitization compulsory can also lead to substantial utility losses for less risk-averse investors.

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File URL: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/Papers/pdf/wp124.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp124.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp124
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  1. Olivia S. Mitchell & James M. Poterba & Mark J. Warshawsky, . "New Evidence on the Money's Worth of Individual Annuities," Pension Research Council Working Papers 97-9, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  2. Jeffrey R. Brown & Olivia S. Mitchell & James M. Poterba, . "The Role of Real Annuities and Indexed Bonds In An Individual Accounts Retirement Program," Pension Research Council Working Papers 99-2, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  3. Michael D. Hurd & James P. Smith, 1999. "Anticipated and Actual Bequests," NBER Working Papers 7380, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. John F. Cogan & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2003. "Perspectives from the President's Commission on Social Security Reform," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(2), pages 149-172, Spring.
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  8. Robert C. Merton, 1982. "On Consumption-Indexed Public Pension Plans," NBER Working Papers 0910, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Blake, David & Cairns, Andrew J. G. & Dowd, Kevin, 2003. "Pensionmetrics 2: stochastic pension plan design during the distribution phase," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 29-47, August.
  10. Ivica Dus & Raimond Maurer & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2005. "Betting on Death and Capital Markets in Retirement: A Shortfall Risk Analysis of Life Annuities," NBER Working Papers 11271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Brugiavini, Agar, 1993. "Uncertainty resolution and the timing of annuity purchases," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 31-62, January.
  12. Jeffrey R. Brown & James M. Poterba, 1999. "Joint Life Annuities and Annuity Demand by Married Couples," NBER Working Papers 7199, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. 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.
  14. Milevsky, Moshe Arye & Ho, Kwok & Robinson, Chris, 1997. " Asset Allocation via the Conditional First Exit Time or How to Avoid Outliving Your Money," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 53-70, July.
  15. Kingston, Geoffrey & Thorp, Susan, 2005. "Annuitization and asset allocation with HARA utility," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(03), pages 225-248, November.
  16. Joao F. Cocco, 2005. "Consumption and Portfolio Choice over the Life Cycle," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 18(2), pages 491-533.
  17. Dus, Ivica & Maurer, Raimond H. & Mitchell, Olivia S., 2004. "Betting on death and capital markets in retirement: A shortfall risk analysis of life annuities versus phased withdrawal plans," CFS Working Paper Series 2004/01, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  18. Albrecht, Peter & Maurer, Raimond, 2001. "Self-Annuitization, Ruin Risk in Retirement and Asset Allocation: The Annuity Benchmark," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 01-35, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universit├Ąt Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  19. Babbs, Simon H. & Nowman, K. Ben, 1999. "Kalman Filtering of Generalized Vasicek Term Structure Models," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(01), pages 115-130, March.
  20. Martin Feldstein & Elena Ranguelova & Andrew Samwick, 1999. "The Transition to Investment-Based Social Security when Portfolio Returns and Capital Profitability are Uncertain," NBER Working Papers 7016, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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