Private Pensions, Mortality Risk, and the Decision to Annuitize

54 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2000 Last revised: 27 Aug 2022

See all articles by Jeffrey R. Brown

Jeffrey R. Brown

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Finance; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); University of Illinois College of Law; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA); University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 1999

Abstract

This paper examines household decisions about whether or not to annuitize retirement resources. A life-cycle model of consumption, implemented with the use of dynamic programming techniques, is used to construct a utility-based measure of annuity value for individuals and couples in the Health and Retirement Survey. Variation in the calculated annuity equivalent wealth' arises from differences in mortality risk, marital status, risk aversion, and the presence of pre-existing annuities such as Social Security. I find that a one-percentage point increase in the annuity equivalent wealth leads to nearly a one-percentage point increase in the ex ante probability of annuitizing balances in defined contribution pension plans. However, because much of the variation in the expected annuity decision is left unexplained by the life-cycle model, other factors are also analyzed. Health status and an individual's time horizon for financial decision making are significant determinants of the decision. There is no evidence that bequest motives are an important factor in making marginal annuity decisions.

Suggested Citation

Brown, Jeffrey R., Private Pensions, Mortality Risk, and the Decision to Annuitize (June 1999). NBER Working Paper No. w7191, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=171572

Jeffrey R. Brown (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Finance ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) ( email )

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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Economics ( email )

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