Year of publication
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Planning and financial literacy : how do women fare? (2008)
- Many older US households have done little or no planning for retirement, and there is a substantial population that seems to undersave for retirement. Of particular concern is the relative position of older women, who are more vulnerable to old-age poverty due to their longer longevity. This paper uses data from a special module we devised on planning and financial literacy in the 2004 Health and Retirement Study. It shows that women display much lower levels of financial literacy than the older population as a whole. In addition, women who are less financially literate are also less likely to plan for retirement and be successful planners. These findings have important implications for policy and for programs aimed at fostering financial security at older ages.
- 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
- 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
- How ordinary consumers make complex economic decisions: financial literacy and retirement readiness (2010)
- This paper explores who is financially literate, whether people accurately perceive their own economic decision-making skills, and where these skills come from. Self-assessed and objective measures of financial literacy can be linked to consumers’ efforts to plan for retirement in the American Life Panel, and causal relationships with retirement planning examined by exploiting information about respondent financial knowledge acquired in school. Results show that those with more advanced financial knowledge are those more likely to be retirement-ready.
- 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.
- Financial sophistication in the older population (2012)
- This paper examines data on financial sophistication among the U.S. older population, using a special-purpose module implemented in the Health and Retirement Study. We show that financial sophistication is deficient for older respondents (aged 55+). Specifically, many in this group lack a basic grasp of asset pricing, risk diversification, portfolio choice, and investment fees. Subpopulations with particular deficits include women, the least educated, persons over the age of 75, and non-Whites. In view of the fact that people are increasingly being asked to take on responsibility for their own retirement security, such lack of knowledge can have serious implications.
- Financial literarcy and retirement preparedness: evidence and implications for financial education programs (2007)
- Economists are beginning to investigate the causes and consequences of financial illiteracy to better understand why retirement planning is lacking and why so many households arrive close to retirement with little or no wealth. Our review reveals that many households are unfamiliar with even the most basic economic concepts needed to make saving and investment decisions. Such financial illiteracy is widespread: the young and older people in the United States and other countries appear woefully under-informed about basic financial concepts, with serious implications for saving, retirement planning, mortgages, and other decisions. In response, governments and several nonprofit organizations have undertaken initiatives to enhance financial literacy. The experience of other countries, including a saving campaign in Japan as well as the Swedish pension privatization program, offers insights into possible roles for financial literacy and saving programs. JEL Classification: D80, D91, G11