IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/0835.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Expectations, Life Expectancy, and Economic Behavior

Author

Listed:
  • Daniel S. Hamermesh

Abstract

Unlike price expectations, which are central to macroeconomic theory and have been examined extensively using survey data, formation of individuals' horizons, which are central to the theory of life-cycle behavior, have been completely neglected. This is especially surprising since life expectancy of adults has increased especially rapidly in Western countries in the past ten years. This study presents the results of analyzing responses by two groups--economists and a random sample--to a questionnaire designed to elicit subjective expectations and probabilities of survival. It shows that people do not extrapolate past improvements in longevity when they determine their subjective horizons, though they are fully aware of levels of and movements within today's life tables. They skew subjective survival probabilities in a way that implies the subjective distribution has greater variance than its actuarial counterpart; and the subjective variance decreases with age. They also base their subjective horizons disproportionately on their relatives' longevity, and long-lived relatives increase uncertainty about the distribution of subjective survival probabilities. As one example of the many areas of life-cycle behavior to which the results are applicable, the study examines the consumption-leisure choices of the optimizing consumer over his lifetime. It finds that shortfalls in utility in old age because people's ex ante horizons had to be updated as -- average longevity increased are relatively small. This implies that large subsidies to retirees under today's Social Security system cannot be justified as compensation for an unexpectedly long retirement for which they failed to save.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1982. "Expectations, Life Expectancy, and Economic Behavior," NBER Working Papers 0835, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0835
    Note: LS HE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w0835.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Arthur, W B, 1981. "The Economics of Risks to Life," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(1), pages 54-64, March.
    2. Alicia H. Munnell, 1997. "Social Security: It ain't Broken: Panel Discussion," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue jun, pages 297-303.
    3. Davies, James B, 1981. "Uncertain Lifetime, Consumption, and Dissaving in Retirement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(3), pages 561-577, June.
    4. Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324, Elsevier.
    5. Levhari, David & Mirman, Leonard J, 1977. "Savings and Consumption with an Uncertain Horizon," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(2), pages 265-281, April.
    6. Turnovsky, Stephen J & Wachter, Michael L, 1972. "A Test of the "Expectations Hypothesis" Using Directly Observed Wage and Price Expectations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 54(1), pages 47-54, February.
    7. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1.
    8. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Spivak, Avia & Summers, Lawrence H, 1982. "The Adequacy of Savings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 1056-1069, December.
    9. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1982. "Social Insurance and Consumption: An Empirical Inquiry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 101-113, March.
    10. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling and Earnings," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 41-63, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Jonung, Lars, 1981. "Perceived and Expected Rates of Inflation in Sweden," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 961-968, December.
    12. Martin S. Feldstein, 1977. "Social Security and Private Savings: International Evidence in an Extended Life-Cycle Model," International Economic Association Series, in: Martin S. Feldstein & Robert P. Inman (ed.), The Economics of Public Services, chapter 8, pages 174-205, Palgrave Macmillan.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1984. "Consumption during Retirement: The Missing Link in the Life Cycle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(1), pages 1-7, February.
    2. Christopher House & John Laitner & Dmitriy Stolyarov, 2008. "Valuing Lost Home Production Of Dual Earner Couples," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(2), pages 701-736, May.
    3. Fatih Guvenen, 2009. "An Empirical Investigation of Labor Income Processes," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 12(1), pages 58-79, January.
    4. Huggett, Mark & Ventura, Gustavo & Yaron, Amir, 2006. "Human capital and earnings distribution dynamics," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 265-290, March.
    5. R. Glenn Hubbard, 1987. "Uncertain Lifetimes, Pensions, and Individual Saving," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in Pension Economics, pages 175-210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Fatih Guvenen, 2007. "Learning Your Earning: Are Labor Income Shocks Really Very Persistent?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 687-712, June.
    7. Dionne, Georges & Lebeau, Martin, 2010. "Le calcul de la valeur statistique d’une vie humaine," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 86(4), pages 487-530, décembre.
    8. John P. Rust, 1989. "A Dynamic Programming Model of Retirement Behavior," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Aging, pages 359-404, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Anthony J. Pellechio, 1981. "Social Security and the Decision to Retire," NBER Working Papers 0734, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Katarzyna Growiec & Jakub Growiec, 2016. "Bridging Social Capital and Individual Earnings: Evidence for an Inverted U," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 127(2), pages 601-631, June.
    11. Shweta Bahl & Ajay Sharma, 2021. "Education–Occupation Mismatch and Dispersion in Returns to Education: Evidence from India," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 153(1), pages 251-298, January.
    12. Kaspar Wüthrich, 2013. "Set Identification of Generalized Linear Predictors in the Presence of Non-Classical Measurement Errors," Diskussionsschriften dp1304, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
    13. Sebastian Stolorz, 2005. "A Test of the Signalling Hypothesis - Evidence from Natural Experiment," Labor and Demography 0512008, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Schultz, T. Paul, 2009. "The Gender and Generational Consequences of the Demographic Transition and Population Policy: An Assessment of the Micro and Macro Linkages," Working Papers 71, Yale University, Department of Economics.
    15. Emanuela di Gropello, 2006. "Meeting the Challenges of Secondary Education in Latin America and East Asia : Improving Efficiency and Resource Mobilization," World Bank Publications - Books, The World Bank Group, number 7173.
    16. Aidis, Ruta & van Praag, Mirjam, 2007. "Illegal entrepreneurship experience: Does it make a difference for business performance and motivation?," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 283-310, March.
    17. Benoit Dostie & Pierre Thomas Léger, 2014. "Firm-Sponsored Classroom Training: Is It Worth It for Older Workers?," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 40(4), pages 377-390, December.
    18. Christian Grund & Dirk Sliwka, 2007. "Reference-Dependent Preferences and the Impact of Wage Increases on Job Satisfaction: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 163(2), pages 313-335, June.
    19. Zeng, Jinli & Zhang, Jie, 2022. "Education policies and development with threshold human capital externalities," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 108(C).
    20. Yi Fan, 2017. "Does Adversity Affect Long-Term Consumption and Financial Behaviour? Evidence from China's Rustication Programme," ERES eres2017_148, European Real Estate Society (ERES).

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0835. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.