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Retirement Consumption: Insights from a Survey

  • John Ameriks
  • Andrew Caplin
  • John Leahy

Prior research has established that consumption falls significantly at retirement. What is not known is the extent to which this fall is anticipated during the working years. Do working households expect such a large fall in consumption upon retirement, or are they taken by surprise? Using data from a new survey, we show that many working households do expect a considerable fall in consumption when they retire. In fact, those who are already retired report significantly smaller falls in consumption than are expected by those who are still working. We show that participation in the stock market plays a dominant role in explaining the gap between expectations and outcomes, indicating that much of the gap is a result of unexpected stock market appreciation. The survey produces new insights into the high level of uncertainty in the period leading up to retirement, and the surprises that may lie in store when households actually retire.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8735.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8735.

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Date of creation: Jan 2002
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Publication status: published as John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2007. "Retirement Consumption: Insights from a Survey," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 265-274, 03.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8735
Note: EFG
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  1. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1982. "Consumption During Retirement: The Missing Link in the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 0930, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. B. Douglas Bernheim & Jonathan Skinner & Steven Weinberg, 1997. "What Accounts for the Variation in Retirement Wealth Among U.S. Households?," NBER Working Papers 6227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Banks, James & Blundell, Richard & Tanner, Sarah, 1998. "Is There a Retirement-Savings Puzzle?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 769-88, September.
  4. Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7t44m5b0, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  6. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2003. "Wealth Accumulation And The Propensity To Plan," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1007-1047, August.
  7. F. Thomas Juster, 1966. "Consumer Buying Intentions and Purchase Probability: An Experiment in Survey Design," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number just66-2, June.
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