- The victory of hope over Angst? : Funding, asset allocation, and risk-taking in german public sector pension reform (2007)
- Public employee pension systems throughout the developed world have traditionally been of the pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) defined benefit (DB) variety, where pensioner payments are financed by taxes (contributions) levied on the working generation. But as the number of retirees rises relative to the working-age group, such systems have begun to face financial distress. This trend has been exacerbated in many countries, among them Germany, by high unemployment rates producing further deterioration of the contribution base. In the long run, public sector pension benefits will have to be cut or contributions increased, if the systems are to be maintained. An alternative path sometimes offered to ease the crunch of paying for public employee pensions is to move toward funding: here, plan assets are gradually built up, invested, and enhanced returns devoted to partly defray civil servants’ pension costs. In this study, we evaluate the impact of introducing partial prefunding, paired with a strategic investment policy for the German federal state of Hesse. The analysis assesses the impact of introducing a supplementary tax-sponsored pension fund whose contributions are invested in the capital market and used to relieve the state budget from (some) pension payments. Our model determines the expectation and the Conditional Value-at-Risk of economic pension costs using a stochastic simulation process for pension plan assets. This approach simultaneously determines the optimal contribution rate and asset allocation that controls the expected economic costs of providing the promised pensions, while at the same time controlling investment risk. Specifically, we offer answers to the following questions: 1. How can the plan be designed to control cash-flow shortfall risk, so as to mitigate the potential burden borne by future generations of taxpayers? 2. What is the optimal asset allocation for this fund as it is built up, to generate a maximum return while simultaneously restricting capital market and liability risk? 3. What are reasonable combinations of annual contribution rates and asset allocation to a state-managed pension fund, which will limit costs of providing promised public sector pensions? We anticipate that this research will interest several sorts of policymaker groups. First, focusing on the German case, the state and Federal governments should find it relevant, as these entities face considerable public sector pension liabilities. Second, our findings will also be of interest to other European countries, as most have substantial underfunded defined benefit plans for civil servants. In what follows, we first offer a brief description of the structure of civil servant pensions in Germany, focusing on their benefit formulas, their financing, and the resulting current as well as future plan obligations for taxpayers. Next, we turn to an analysis of the actuarial status of the Hesse civil servants’ pension plan and evaluate how much would have to be contributed to fund this plan in a nonstochastic context. Subsequently we evaluate the asset-liability and decision-making process from the viewpoint of the plan sponsor, to determine sensible plan asset allocation behavior. A final section summarizes findings and implications.
- Lifecycle impacts of the financial and economic crisis on household optimal consumption, portfolio choice, and labor supply (2011)
- The direct financial impact of the financial crisis has been to deal a heavy blow to investment-based pensions; many workers lost a substantial portion of their retirement saving. The financial sector implosion produced an economic crisis for the rest of the economy via high unemployment and reduced labor earnings, which reduced household contributions to Social Security and some private pensions. Our research asks which types of individuals were most affected by these dual financial and economic shocks, and it also explores how people may react by changing their consumption, saving and investment, work and retirement, and annuitization decisions. We do so with a realistically calibrated lifecycle framework allowing for time-varying investment opportunities and countercyclical risky labor income dynamics. We show that households near retirement will reduce both short- and long-term consumption, boost work effort, and defer retirement. Younger cohorts will initially reduce their work hours, consumption, saving, and equity exposure; later in life, they will work more, retire later, consume less, invest more in stocks, save more, and reduce their demand for private annuities. Keywords: Financial Crisis , Household Finance , Cycle Portfolio Choice , Labor Supply Classification: D1, G11, G23, G35, J14, J26, J32
- Money in motion: dynamic portfolio choice in retirement (2007)
- Retirees confront the difficult problem of how to manage their money in retirement so as to not outlive their funds while continuing to invest in capital markets. We posit a dynamic utility maximizer who makes both asset location and allocation decisions when managing her retirement financial wealth and annuities, and we prove that she can benefit from both the equity premium and longevity insurance in her retirement portfolio. Even without bequests, she will not fully annuitize; rather, her optimal stock allocation amounts initially to more than half of her financial wealth and declines with age. Welfare gains from this strategy can amount to 40 percent of financial wealth (depending on risk parameters and other resources). In practice, it turns out that many retirees will do almost as well by purchasing a variable annuity invested 60/40 in stocks/bonds. JEL Classification: G11, G23, G22, D14, J26, H55
- Betting on death and capital markets in retirement : a shortfall risk analysis of life annuities versus phased withdrawal plans (2004)
- How might retirees consider deploying the retirement assets accumulated in a defined contribution pension plan? One possibility would be to purchase an immediate annuity. Another approach, called the "phased withdrawal" strategy in the literature, would have the retiree invest his funds and then withdraw some portion of the account annually. Using this second tactic, the withdrawal rate might be determined according to a fixed benefit level payable until the retiree dies or the funds run out, or it could be set using a variable formula, where the retiree withdraws funds according to a rule linked to life expectancy. Using a range of data consistent with the German experience, we evaluate several alternative designs for phased withdrawal strategies, allowing for endogenous asset allocation patterns, and also allowing the worker to make decisions both about when to retire and when to switch to an annuity. We show that one particular phased withdrawal rule is appealing since it offers relatively low expected shortfall risk, good expected payouts for the retiree during his life, and some bequest potential for the heirs. We also find that unisex mortality tables if used for annuity pricing can make women's expected shortfalls higher, expected benefits higher, and bequests lower under a phased withdrawal program. Finally, we show that delayed annuitization can be appealing since it provides higher expected benefits with lower expected shortfalls, at the cost of somewhat lower anticipated bequests. Klassifikation: G22, G23, J26, J32, H55 . January 2004.
- How family status and social security claiming options shape optimal life cycle portfolios : [Version October 20, 2013] (2013)
- Household decisions are profoundly shaped by a complex set of financial options due to Social Security rules determining retirement, spousal, and survivor benefits, along with benefit adjustments that vary with the age at which these are claimed. These rules influence optimal household asset allocation, insurance, and work decisions, given life cycle demographic shocks such as marriage, divorce, and children. Our model generates a wealth profile and a low and stable equity fraction consistent with empirical evidence. We also confirm predictions that wives will claim retirement benefits earlier than husbands, while life insurance is mainly purchased by younger men. Our policy simulations imply that eliminating survivor benefits would sharply reduce claiming differences by sex while dramatically increasing men’s life insurance purchases.
- Time is money: life cycle rational inertia and delegation of investment management : [Version November 2013] (2013)
- We investigate the theoretical impact of including two empirically-grounded insights in a dynamic life cycle portfolio choice model. The first is to recognize that, when managing their own financial wealth, investors incur opportunity costs in terms of current and future human capital accumulation, particularly if human capital is acquired via learning by doing. The second is that we incorporate age-varying efficiency patterns in financial decisionmaking. Both enhancements produce inactivity in portfolio adjustment patterns consistent with empirical evidence. We also analyze individuals’ optimal choice between self-managing their wealth versus delegating the task to a financial advisor. Delegation proves most valuable to the young and the old. Our calibrated model quantifies welfare gains from including investment time and money costs, as well as delegation, in a life cycle setting.
- Family status, social security claiming options, and life cycle portfolios (2014)
- Social Security rules that determine retirement, spousal, and survivor benefits, along with benefit adjustments according to the age at which these are claimed, open up a complex set of financial options for household decisions. These rules influence optimal household asset allocation, insurance, and work decisions, subject to life cycle demographic shocks, such as marriage, divorce, and children. Our model-based research generates a wealth profile and a low and stable equity fraction consistent with empirical evidence. We confirm predictions that wives will claim retirement benefits earlier than husbands, while life insurance is mainly purchased by younger men. Our policy simulations imply that eliminating survivor benefits would sharply reduce claiming differences by sex while dramatically increasing men’s life insurance purchases.
- Will they take the money and work? An empirical analysis of people's willingness to delay claiming social security benefits for a lump sum (2015)
- This paper investigates whether exchanging the Social Security delayed retirement credit, currently paid as an increase in lifetime annuity benefits, for a lump sum would induce later claiming and additional work. We show that people would voluntarily claim about half a year later if the lump sum were paid for claiming any time after the Early Retirement Age, and about two-thirds of a year later if the lump sum were paid only for those claiming after their Full Retirement Age. Overall, people will work one-third to one-half of the additional months, compared to the status quo. Those who would currently claim at the youngest ages are likely to be most responsive to the offer of a lump sum benefit.