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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. 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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  4. 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.
  5. Ivica Dus & Raimond Maurer & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2003. "Betting on Death and Capital Markets in Retirement: A Shortfall Risk Analysis of Life Annuities versus Phased Withdrawal Plans," Working Papers wp063, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  6. R. C. Merton, 1970. "Optimum Consumption and Portfolio Rules in a Continuous-time Model," Working papers 58, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  7. 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.
  8. Olivia S. Mitchell & James M. Poterba & Mark J. Warshawsky, 1997. "New Evidence on the Money's Worth of Individual Annuities," NBER Working Papers 6002, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  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. Geoffrey Kingston & Susan Thorp, 2004. "Annuitization and Asset Allocation with HARA Utlity," Econometric Society 2004 Australasian Meetings 248, Econometric Society.
  16. 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.
  17. 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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