Stock Market Returns and Annuitization
39 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2010 Last revised: 21 May 2010
Date Written: February 15, 2010
I document a strong negative relationship between stock market returns and annuitization. Using a novel dataset with more than 103,000 actual payout decisions, I find that positive stock market returns decrease the likelihood of employees choosing an annuity over a lump sum, and vice versa. More precisely, only recent market performance drives annuitization with almost no weight assigned to returns two years before the decision date. Investigating two additional datasets, I document that financial education does not mitigate this result and that stock market returns affect individual annuity sales in a similar way. Several explanations can account for these findings: wealth effects generated by movements of the stock market; endogenous timing of retirement; volatility of stock market returns and time varying risk aversion; and expectations about labor income or inflationary periods. After addressing these explanations, I present evidence consistent with employees extrapolating from recent stock market returns.
Keywords: Household Finance, Annuities, Myopic Extrapolation, Wealth Effects
JEL Classification: D14, G11, G22, H55
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation