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The History of Annuities in the United States

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  • James M. Poterba

Abstract

This paper summarizes the development of private annuity markets in the United States. Annuities constituted a small share of the U.S. insurance market until the 1930s, when two developments contributed to their growth. First, concerns about the stability of the financial system drove investors to products offered by insurance companies, which were perceived to be stable institutions. Flexible payment deferred annuities, which permit investors to save and accumulate assets as well as draw down principal, grew rapidly in this period. Second, the group annuity market for corporate pension plans began to develop in the 1930s. The group annuity market grew more rapidly than the individual annuity market for several decades after World War II. The most recent development in the annuity marketplace has been the rapid expansion of variable annuities. These annuity products combine the investment features of mutual funds with the tax deferral available for life insurance products. Variable annuity premium payments increased by a factor of five in the most recent five years for which data are available.

Suggested Citation

  • James M. Poterba, 1997. "The History of Annuities in the United States," NBER Working Papers 6001, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Moshe A. Milevsky & Kristen S. Moore & Virginia R. Young, 2006. "Asset Allocation And Annuity‐Purchase Strategies To Minimize The Probability Of Financial Ruin," Mathematical Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(4), pages 647-671, October.
    2. Narat Charupat & Mark J. Kamstra & Moshe A. Milevsky, 2016. "The Sluggish and Asymmetric Reaction of Life Annuity Prices to Changes in Interest Rates," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 83(3), pages 519-555, September.
    3. Guan Gong & Anthony Webb, 2008. "Mortality Heterogeneity and the Distributional Consequences of Mandatory Annuitization," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 75(4), pages 1055-1079, December.
    4. Hans-Martin von Gaudecker & Carsten Weber, 2004. "Surprises in a Growing Market Niche: An Evaluation of the German Private Life Annuities Market," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 29(3), pages 394-416, July.
    5. Olivia S. Mitchell, 1999. "New Evidence on the Money's Worth of Individual Annuities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1299-1318, December.
    6. Michiel Bijlsma & Cora Zonderland & Machiel van Dijk & Marc Pomp, 2005. "Competition in markets for life insurance," CPB Document 96, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    7. Kaschützke, B. & Maurer, R., 2016. "Investing and Portfolio Allocation for Retirement," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, in: Piggott, John & Woodland, Alan (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 567-608, Elsevier.
    8. Therese M. Vaughan, 2012. "Life Insurance: Providing Long‐Term Stability in a Volatile World," Risk Management and Insurance Review, American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 15(2), pages 255-261, September.
    9. Johann K. Brunner & Susanne Pech, 2006. "Adverse selection in the annuity market with sequential and simultaneous insurance demand," The Geneva Risk and Insurance Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics (The Geneva Association), vol. 31(2), pages 111-146, December.
    10. Gan, Li & Gong, Guan & Hurd, Michael & McFadden, Daniel, 2015. "Subjective mortality risk and bequests," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 188(2), pages 514-525.
    11. repec:dau:papers:123456789/5369 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Milevsky, Moshe A. & Salisbury, Thomas S., 2022. "Refundable income annuities: Feasibility of money-back guarantees," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 175-193.
    13. Peter Diamond, 1998. "The Economics of Social Security Reform," NBER Working Papers 6719, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Mr. Divya Kirti, 2017. "When Gambling for Resurrection is Too Risky," IMF Working Papers 2017/180, International Monetary Fund.
    15. Michiel Bijlsma & Machiel van Dijk & Marc Pomp & Cora Zonderland, 2005. "Competition in markets for life insurance," CPB Document 96.rdf, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    16. Ms. Yoon Sook Kim & Mr. Paul S. Mills & Todd Groome & François Haas & Mr. John Kiff & Mr. Shinobu Nakagawa & Parmeshwar Ramlogan & Ms. Oksana Khadarina & Mr. Nicolas R Blancher & Mr. William Lee, 2006. "The Limits of Market-Based Risk Transfer and Implications for Managing Systemic Risks," IMF Working Papers 2006/217, International Monetary Fund.
    17. William M. Gentry & Joseph Milano, 1998. "Taxes and Investment in Annuities," NBER Working Papers 6525, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Koijen, R.S.J. & Nijman, T.E. & Werker, B.J.M., 2006. "Optimal Portfolio Choice with Annuitization," Discussion Paper 2006-78, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    19. Kyal Berends & Robert McMenamin & Thanases Plestis & Richard J. Rosen, 2013. "The sensitivity of life insurance firms to interest rate changes," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, vol. 37(Q II), pages 47-78.
    20. Miss Allison C Schrager & Mr. George A Mackenzie, 2004. "Can the Private Annuity Market Provide Secure Retirement Income?," IMF Working Papers 2004/230, International Monetary Fund.
    21. Koijen, R.S.J. & Nijman, T.E. & Werker, B.J.M., 2006. "Optimal Portfolio Choice with Annuitization," Other publications TiSEM e0ee89d5-4a5f-4c70-a7ee-d, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    22. von Gaudecker, Hans-Martin & Weber II, Carsten, 2003. "Surprises in a Growing Market Niche - An Evaluation of the German Private Annuities Market," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 03-08, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
    23. Vora, Premal P. & McGinnis, John D., 2000. "The asset allocation decision in retirement: lessons from dollar-cost averaging," Financial Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 47-63, 00.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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