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Payouts in Switzerland: Explaining Developments in Annuitization


  • Monika Bütler


  • Stefan Staubli



Switzerland is one of the few countries with long-term experience on the payout decisions made by retirees in fully-funded pension plans. Switzerland is also atypical in its unusually high annuitization rates: A majority of retirees covered by mandatory occupational pension plans choose an annuity. This paper will shed light on this extraordinary aspect. It revisits the historical role of occupational pension plans in the provision of old age income, and examines the role of regulation in the payout phase of the scheme. Recent developments in both market conditions and regulations are used to assess the impact of certain determinants of the annuitization decision, such as money’s worth ratios (MWR), means-tested benefits and behavioral factors.

Suggested Citation

  • Monika Bütler & Stefan Staubli, 2010. "Payouts in Switzerland: Explaining Developments in Annuitization," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2010 2010-06, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  • Handle: RePEc:usg:dp2010:2010-06

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Bütler, Monika & Staubli, Stefan & Zito, Maria Grazia, 2008. "The Role of the Annuity's Value on the Decision (Not) to Annuitize: Evidence from a Large Policy Change," CEPR Discussion Papers 6930, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. 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.
    4. Bütler, Monika & Peijnenburg, Kim & Staubli, Stefan, 2017. "How much do means-tested benefits reduce the demand for annuities?," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(04), pages 419-449, October.
    5. Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "The Role of Information and Social Interactions in Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 815-842.
    6. Monika Queisser & Edward R. Whitehouse, 2003. "Individual Choice in Social Protection: The Case of Swiss Pensions," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 11, OECD Publishing.
    7. Monika Bütler, 2009. "Switzerland: High Replacement Rates and Generous Subsistence as a Barrier to Work in Old Age," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 34(4), pages 561-577, October.
    8. 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.
    9. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2009. "Mental Accounting in Portfolio Choice: Evidence from a Flypaper Effect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 2085-2095, December.
    10. Queisser, Monika & Vittas, Dimitri, 2000. "The Swiss multi-pillar pension system : triumph of common sense?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2416, The World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. James Poterba & Steven Venti & David Wise, 2011. "The Composition and Drawdown of Wealth in Retirement," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 95-118, Fall.
    2. Norma L. Nielson, 2012. "Annuities and Your Nest Egg: Reforms to Promote Optimal Annuitization of Retirement Capital," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 358, August.

    More about this item


    Annuity Puzzle; Occupational Pension; Annuity; Lump Sum;

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

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