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Life Cycle Annuity Valuation

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  • B. Douglas Bernheim

Abstract

In this paper, we argue that actuarial valuation of annuity benefit streams is theoretically inconsistent with the assumption of pure lifecycle motives. Instead, we show that the simple discounted value of future benefits (ignoring the possibility of death) is often a good approximation to the relevant concept of value. This observation motivates a re-examination of existing empirical evidence concerning the effects of Social Security on personal savings, retirement, and the distribution of wealth, as well as the proper computation of age-wealth profiles. The conceptual points raised here are also relevant for evaluating the relative merits of wage and consumption taxes. In each case,we argue that the use of simple, rather than actuarial discounting of survival-contingent income streams dramatically alters the conclusions of previous studies.

Suggested Citation

  • B. Douglas Bernheim, 1984. "Life Cycle Annuity Valuation," NBER Working Papers 1511, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1511
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Auerbach, Alan J & Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Skinner, Jonathan, 1983. "The Efficiency Gains from Dynamic Tax Reform," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 24(1), pages 81-100, February.
    2. Boskin, Michael J. & Hurd, Michael D., 1978. "The effect of social security on early retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 361-377, December.
    3. 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.
    4. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Spivak, Avia, 1981. "The Family as an Incomplete Annuities Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 372-391, April.
    5. Mervyn A. King & Louis Dicks-Mireaux, 1981. "Asset Holdings and the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 0614, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Eckstein, Zvi & Eichenbaum, Martin & Peled, Dan, 1985. "Uncertain lifetimes and the welfare enhancing properties of annuity markets and social security," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 303-326, April.
    7. Feldstein, Martin S, 1974. "Social Security, Induced Retirement, and Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(5), pages 905-926, Sept./Oct.
    8. Michael D. Hurd & John B. Shoven, 1985. "The Distributional Impact of Social Security," NBER Chapters, in: Pensions, Labor, and Individual Choice, pages 193-222, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Martin Feldstein & Anthony J. Pellechio, 1980. "Social Security and Household Wealth Accumulation: New Microeconomic Evidence," NBER Working Papers 0206, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1979. "Testing the Theory of Social Security and Life Cycle Accumulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 396-410, June.
    11. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1987. "Dissaving after Retirement: Testing the Pure Life Cycle Hypothesis," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in Pension Economics, pages 237-280, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. King, M A & Dicks-Mireaux, L-D L, 1982. "Asset Holdings and the Life-Cycle," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(366), pages 247-267, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alan J. Auerbach & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1985. "Life Insurance of the Elderly: Adequacy and Determinants," NBER Working Papers 1737, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Michael D. Hurd, 1989. "Issues and Results from Research on the Elderly I: Economic Status (Part I of III Parts)," NBER Working Papers 3018, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Sweeney, James L. & Boskin, Michael J., 1985. "Analyzing Impacts of Potential Tax Policy Changes on U.S. Oil Security," CEPR Publications 244428, Stanford University, Center for Economic Policy Research.
    4. Manne, Alan S., 1984. "On the Formulation and Solution of Economic Equilibrium Models," CEPR Publications 244427, Stanford University, Center for Economic Policy Research.

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