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Adverse Selection in the Annuity Market and the Role for Social Security

  • Roozbeh Hosseini

    (Univeristy of Minnesota)

This paper studies the role of social security in providing annuity insurance. I calculate the welfare cost of adverse selection in the annuity market using a life cycle model in which individuals have private information about their mortality. I calibrate the model to the current U.S. social security replacement ratio, fraction of annuitized wealth and mortality heterogeneity in the Health and Retirement Study. My findings are as follows. First, in the absence of social security, individuals (on average) maintain about the same fraction of annuitized wealth as they do in the presence of social security, despite the fact that prices in the market are actuarially unfair. As a result, the welfare loss of abolishing social security is only 0.15 percent (in terms of consumption). Second, there is an ex ante gain of 0.51 percent from implementing the ex ante efficient allocations, which comes from redistributing resources from high mortality types to low mortality types. Individuals with high mortality (who will die soon and do not have demand for longevity insurance) incur large welfare losses from mandatory participation. These losses offset the benefits of providing insurance to low mortality types, leaving the overall ex ante welfare gain small.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2008 Meeting Papers with number 264.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed008:264
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Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/society.htm
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  1. Thomas Davidoff & Jeffrey R. Brown & Peter A. Diamond, 2005. "Annuities and Individual Welfare," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1573-1590, December.
  2. Benjamin M. Friedman & Mark J. Warshawsky, 1990. "The Cost of Annuities: Implications for Saving Behavior and Bequests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 135-154.
  3. Harald Uhlig, 1996. "A law of large numbers for large economies (*)," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 8(1), pages 41-50.
  4. Andrew B. Abel & Mark Warshawsky, . "Specification of the Joy of Giving: Insights from Altruism," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 3-87, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  5. Barbara A. Butrica & Gordon B.T. Mermin, 2006. "Annuitized Wealth and Consumption at Older Ages," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2006-26, Center for Retirement Research, revised Dec 2006.
  6. V. Kerry Smith & Donald H. Taylor & Frank A. Sloan, 2001. "Longevity Expectations and Death: Can People Predict Their Own Demise?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1126-1134, September.
  7. Butt, Zoltan & Haberman, Steven, 2004. "Application of Frailty-Based Mortality Models Using Generalized Linear Models," ASTIN Bulletin: The Journal of the International Actuarial Association, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(01), pages 175-197, May.
  8. Hubbard, R Glenn & Judd, Kenneth L, 1987. "Social Security and Individual Welfare: Precautionary Saving, Borrowing Constraints, and the Payroll Tax," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 630-46, September.
  9. Walliser, Jan, 2000. " Adverse Selection in the Annuities Market and the Impact of Privatizing Social Security," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(3), pages 373-93, June.
  10. Diamond, P. A., 1977. "A framework for social security analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 275-298, December.
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