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Optimal Portfolio Choice with Wage-Indexed Social Security

  • Jialun Li
  • Kent Smetters

This paper re-examines the classic question of how a household should optimally allocate its portfolio between risky stocks and risk-free bonds over its lifecycle. We show that allowing for the wage indexation of social security benefits fundamentally alters the optimal decisions. Moreover, the optimal allocation is close to observed empirical behavior. Households, therefore, do not appear to be making large "mistakes," as sometimes believed. In fact, traditional financial planning advice, as embedded in "target date" funds - whose enormous recent growth has been encouraged by new government policy - often leads to even relatively larger "mistakes" and welfare losses.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17025.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17025.

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Date of creation: May 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17025
Note: AG AP PE
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  1. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 2002. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 47-89, January.
  2. Kjetil Storesletten & Chris Telmer & Amir Yaron, . "Asset pricing with idiosyncratic risk and overlapping generations," GSIA Working Papers 226, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  3. Carol C. Bertaut & Michael Haliassos, 1996. "Precautionary Portfolio Behavior from a Life-Cycle Perspective," Finance 9604001, EconWPA.
  4. Heaton, John & Lucas, Deborah, 1997. "Market Frictions, Savings Behavior, And Portfolio Choice," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(01), pages 76-101, January.
  5. Bodie, Zvi & Merton, Robert C. & Samuelson, William F., 1992. "Labor supply flexibility and portfolio choice in a life cycle model," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 16(3-4), pages 427-449.
  6. Ian Ayres & Barry J. Nalebuff, 2008. "Life-cycle Investing and Leverage: Buying Stock on Margin Can Reduce Retirement Risk," NBER Working Papers 14094, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Francisco Gomes & Alexander Michaelides, 2005. "Optimal Life-Cycle Asset Allocation: Understanding the Empirical Evidence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(2), pages 869-904, 04.
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