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The Joy of Giving or Assisted Living? Using Strategic Surveys to Separate Bequest and Precautionary Motives

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  • John Ameriks
  • Andrew Caplin
  • Steven Laufer
  • Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh

Abstract

Strong bequest motives can explain low retirement spending, but so equally can strong precautionary motives. Given this identification problem, the recent tradition has been largely to ignore bequest motives. We develop a rich model of spending in retirement that allows for both motives, and introduce a "Medicaid aversion" parameter that plays a key role in determining precautionary savings. We implement a "strategic" survey to resolve the identification problem between bequest and precautionary motives. We find that strong bequest motives are too prevalent to be ignored. Moreover, Medicaid aversion is widespread, and helps explain the low spending of many middle class retirees.

Suggested Citation

  • John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & Steven Laufer & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, 2007. "The Joy of Giving or Assisted Living? Using Strategic Surveys to Separate Bequest and Precautionary Motives," NBER Working Papers 13105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13105
    Note: AG AP CH EFG HC LS PE
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    Cited by:

    1. Ralph S.J. Koijen & Stijn Nieuwerburgh & Motohiro Yogo, 2016. "Health and Mortality Delta: Assessing the Welfare Cost of Household Insurance Choice," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 71(2), pages 957-1010, April.
    2. Yogo, Motohiro, 2016. "Portfolio choice in retirement: Health risk and the demand for annuities, housing, and risky assets," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 17-34.
    3. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & John B. Jones, 2010. "Why Do the Elderly Save? The Role of Medical Expenses," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(1), pages 39-75, February.
    4. Jan Rouwendal, 2009. "Housing Wealth and Household Portfolios in an Ageing Society," De Economist, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 1-48, March.
    5. Tatyana Koreshkova & Karen Kopecky, 2012. "The Joint Impact of Social Security and Medicaid on Incentives and Welfare," 2012 Meeting Papers 967, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Vittas, Dimitri, 2011. "The mechanics and regulation of variable payout annuities," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5762, The World Bank.
    7. Joachim Inkmann & Paula Lopes & Alexander Michaelides, 2011. "How Deep Is the Annuity Market Participation Puzzle?," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 24(1), pages 279-319.
    8. Beshears, John & Choi, James J. & Laibson, David & Madrian, Brigitte C. & Zeldes, Stephen P., 2014. "What makes annuitization more appealing?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 2-16.
      • John Beshears & James Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2012. "What Makes Annuitization More Appealing?," NBER Chapters,in: Retirement Benefits for State and Local Employees: Designing Pension Plans for the Twenty-First Century National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & John Bailey Jones, 2016. "Medicaid Insurance in Old Age," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(11), pages 3480-3520, November.
    10. Karen Kopecky & Tatyana Koreshkova, 2009. "The Impact of Medical and Nursing Home Expenses and Social Insurance Policies on Savings and Inequality," Working Papers 09006, Concordia University, Department of Economics.
    11. Jeffrey R. Brown & Amy Finkelstein, 2009. "The Private Market for Long-Term Care Insurance in the United States: A Review of the Evidence," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 76(1), pages 5-29.
    12. Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh & Motohiro Yogo & Ralph S.J. Koijen, 2009. "Optimal Health and Longevity Insurance," 2009 Meeting Papers 185, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    13. Pashchenko, Svetlana, 2013. "Accounting for non-annuitization," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 53-67.
    14. Samuel Marshall & Kathleen McGarry & Jonathan S. Skinner, 2011. "The Risk of Out-of-Pocket Health Care Expenditure at the End of Life," NBER Chapters,in: Explorations in the Economics of Aging, pages 101-128 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Bütler, Monika & Peijnenburg, Kim & Staubli, Stefan, 2017. "How much do means-tested benefits reduce the demand for annuities?," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(04), pages 419-449, October.
    16. Lee Lockwood, 2012. "Bequest Motives and the Annuity Puzzle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 15(2), pages 226-243, April.
    17. Juan Esteban Halcartegaray & Jorge Miranda, 2011. "Efectos del SCOMP sobre la Elección individual de Modalidad de Pensión," Working Papers 52, Superintendencia de Pensiones, revised Aug 2012.
    18. Kopecky, Karen A. & Koreshkova, Tatyana, 2010. "The impact of medical and nursing home expenses and social insurance," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2010-19, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, revised 01 Dec 2013.
    19. Frank van Erp & Paul de Hek, 2009. "Analyzing labour supply of elderly people: a life-cycle approach," CPB Document 179, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    20. Shlomo Benartzi & Alessandro Previtero & Richard H. Thaler, 2011. "Annuitization Puzzles," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 143-164, Fall.
    21. Antoine Bommier, Francois Le Grand, "undated". "Too Risk Averse to Purchase Insurance? A Theoretical Glance at the Annuity Puzzle," Working Papers ETH-RC-12-002, ETH Zurich, Chair of Systems Design.
    22. Davis, Morris A. & Van Nieuwerburgh, Stijn, 2015. "Housing, Finance, and the Macroeconomy," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

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