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

  • Wolfram J. Horneff
  • Raimond Maurer
  • Olivia S. Mitchell
  • Ivica Dus

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 %u201Cself-annuitization%u201D plan or the 401(k) %u201Cdefault%u201D 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 %u201Cbet on death.%u201D 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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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12392.

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Date of creation: Jul 2006
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12392
Note: AG AP
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  1. David Blake & Andrew J. G. Cairns & Kevin Dowd, 2003. "Pensionmetrics 2: stochastic pension plan design during the distribution phase," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 24830, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
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  8. 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.
  9. Michael D. Hurd & James P. Smith, 1999. "Anticipated and Actual Bequests," NBER Working Papers 7380, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Dushi, Irena & Webb, Anthony, 2004. "Household annuitization decisions: simulations and empirical analyses," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 109-143, July.
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  14. Geoffrey Kingston & Susan Thorp, 2004. "Annuitization and Asset Allocation with HARA Utlity," Econometric Society 2004 Australasian Meetings 248, Econometric Society.
  15. Jeffrey R. Brown & Olivia S. Mitchell & James M. Poterba, 1999. "The Role of Real Annuities and Indexed Bonds in an Individual Accounts Retirement Program," NBER Working Papers 7005, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Brugiavini, Agar, 1993. "Uncertainty resolution and the timing of annuity purchases," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 31-62, January.
  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.
  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.
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