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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
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:red:sed008:264
Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA
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  1. Martin S. Eichenbaum & Dan S. Peled, 1986. "Capital Accumulation and Annuities in an Adverse Selection Economy," NBER Working Papers 2046, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Piero Gottardi & Felix Kubler, 2006. "Social Security and Risk Sharing," Working Papers 2006_38, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
  3. Bisin, Alberto & Gottardi, P. & Guaitoli, D., 1998. "A Note on the Convergence to Competitive Equilibria in Economies with Moral Hazard," Working Papers 98-41, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  4. Brown, Jeffrey R., 2001. "Private pensions, mortality risk, and the decision to annuitize," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 29-62, October.
  5. Bisin, Alberto & Gottardi, Piero, 1999. "Competitive Equilibria with Asymmetric Information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 1-48, July.
  6. Jay Hong & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2006. "Social Security, Life Insurance and Annuities for Families," 2006 Meeting Papers 410, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Thomas Davidoff & Jeffrey R. Brown & Peter A. Diamond, 2003. "Annuities and Individual Welfare," NBER Working Papers 9714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Dionne, G. & Doherty, N. & Fombaron, N., 2000. "Adverse Selection in Insurance Markets," Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales de Montreal- 00-05, Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales de Montreal-Chaire de gestion des risques..
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Abel, Andrew B, 1986. "Capital Accumulation and Uncertain Lifetimes with Adverse Selection," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(5), pages 1079-97, September.
  12. 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.
  13. Eckstein, Zvi & Eichenbaum, Martin & Peled, Dan, 1985. "Uncertain lifetimes and the welfare enhancing properties of annuity markets and social security," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 303-326, April.
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