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Managing the Risk of Life

  • Adeline Delavande

    (RAND)

  • Robert Willis

    (University of Michigan)

This study analyzes the role of individual’s and spouse’s survival expectations and knowledge about Social Security rules on the expected Social Security claiming age, taking into account the various incentives single and married individuals face. There is substantial heterogeneity in the level of knowledge about SS rules according to demographic characteristics. We find that single men and women who expect to be long-lived plan on delaying Social Security claiming. When we allow for differential effects of survival on knowledge about Social Security rules, subjective survivals matter only for single women who are knowledgeable. For single men, knowledge is not so important in their decisions. The claiming decision of married individuals is more complicated, because they are entitled to spouse’s and survivor’s benefits. Consistent with the incentives provided by Social Security rules, we find that married men base their expected claiming age on their spouse’s survival expectations but not on their own survival. For married women, both own and spouse’s subjective survivals positively influence the timing of claiming. Knowledge about Social Security rules affects the expected claiming age of both married men and women.

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File URL: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/Papers/pdf/wp167.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp167.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp167
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  1. Michael D. Hurd & Kathleen McGarry, 2002. "The Predictive Validity of Subjective Probabilities of Survival," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 966-985, October.
  2. Adeline Delavande & Michael Perry & Robert Willis, 2006. "Probabilistic Thinking and Early Social Security Claiming," Working Papers wp129, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  3. Li Gan & Michael D. Hurd & Daniel L. McFadden, 2005. "Individual Subjective Survival Curves," NBER Chapters, in: Analyses in the Economics of Aging, pages 377-412 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Coile, Courtney & Diamond, Peter & Gruber, Jonathan & Jousten, Alain, 2002. "Delays in claiming social security benefits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 357-385, June.
  5. Sewin Chan & Ann Huff Stevens, 2003. "What You Don't Know Can't Help You: Pension Knowledge and Retirement Decision Making," NBER Working Papers 10185, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Olivia S. Mitchell, 1987. "Worker Knowledge of Pension Provisions," NBER Working Papers 2414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Michael Hurd & James P. Smith & Julie M. Zissimopoulos, 2003. "The Effects of Subjective Survival on Retirements and Social Security Claiming," Working Papers 03-11, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  8. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2001. "Imperfect Knowledge, Retirement and Saving," NBER Working Papers 8406, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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