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Cognitive Constraints on Valuing Annuities

Listed author(s):
  • Jeffrey R. Brown
  • Arie Kapteyn
  • Erzo F.P. Luttmer
  • Olivia S. Mitchell

We show that people have difficulty valuing annuities, and this, instead of a preference for lumpsums, helps explain observed low annuity demand. Although the median price at which people are willing to sell an annuity stream is close to the actuarial value, many responses diverge greatly from optimizing behavior. Moreover, people will pay substantially less to buy than to sell annuities. We conclude that boundedly rational consumers adopt "buy low, sell high" heuristics when confronting a complex trade-off. This suggests that many consumers do not make optimizing decisions, underscoring the difficulty of explaining cross-sectional annuity valuation differences using standard models.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19168.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19168.

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Date of creation: Jun 2013
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19168
Note: AG PE
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  10. Horneff, Wolfram J. & Maurer, Raimond H. & Mitchell, Olivia S. & Stamos, Michael Z., 2010. "Variable payout annuities and dynamic portfolio choice in retirement," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(02), pages 163-183, April.
  11. 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.
  12. Monika Bütler & Federica Teppa, 2007. "The Choice between an Annuity and a Lump Sum: Results from Swiss Pension Funds," NBER Chapters,in: Public Policy and Retirement, Trans-Atlantic Public Economics Seminar (TAPES), pages 1944-1966 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  14. Horneff, Wolfram J. & Maurer, Raimond H. & Mitchell, Olivia S. & Stamos, Michael Z., 2009. "Asset allocation and location over the life cycle with investment-linked survival-contingent payouts," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(9), pages 1688-1699, September.
  15. Jeffrey R. Brown & Olivia S. Mitchell & James M. Poterba, 2001. "The Role of Real Annuities and Indexed Bonds in an Individual Accounts Retirement Program," NBER Chapters,in: Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 321-370 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Peijnenburg, J.M.J. & Nijman, T.E. & Werker, B.J.M., 2010. "Health Cost Risk and Optimal Retirement Provision : A Simple Rule for Annuity Demand," Discussion Paper 2010-14, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  17. Cassio M. Turra & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2004. "The Impact of Health Status and Out-of-Pocket Medical Expenditures on Annuity Valuation," Working Papers wp086, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  18. John Chalmers & Jonathan Reuter, 2012. "How Do Retirees Value Life Annuities? Evidence from Public Employees," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 25(8), pages 2601-2634.
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  22. Peijnenburg, J.M.J. & Nijman, T.E. & Werker, B.J.M., 2010. "Optimal Annuitization with Incomplete Annuity Markets and Background Risk During Retirement," Discussion Paper 2010-11, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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