Year of publication
- 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.
- Annuities for an ageing world (2002)
- Substantial research attention has been devoted to the pension accumulation process, whereby employees and those advising them work to accumulate funds for retirement. Until recently, less analysis has been devoted to the pension decumulation process – the process by which retirees finance their consumption during retirement. This gap has recently begun to be filled by an active group of researchers examining key aspects of the pension payout market. One of the areas of most interesting investigation has been in the area of annuities, which are financial products intended to cover the risk of retirees outliving their assets. This paper reviews and extends recent research examining the role of annuities in helping finance retirement consumption. We also examine key market and regulatory factors.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- Financial literacy and retirement planning: new evidence from the Rand American Life Panel (2007)
- The present paper introduces a new dataset, the Rand American Life Panel (ALP), which offers several appealing features for an analysis of financial literacy and retirement planning. It allows us to evaluate financial knowledge during workers’ prime earning years when they are making key financial decisions, and it offers detailed financial literacy and retirement planning questions, permitting a finer assessment of respondents’ financial literacy than heretofore feasible. We can also compare respondents’ self-assessed financial knowledge levels with objective measures of financial literacy, and most valuably, we can investigate prior financial training which permits us to identify key causal links. By every measure, and in every sample we examine, financial literacy proves to be a key determinant of retirement planning. We also find that respondent literacy is higher when they were exposed to economics in school and to company-based financial education programs. JEL Classification: D91
- Baby boomer retirement security: the roles of planning, financial literacy and housing wealth (2006)
- We compare wealth holdings across two cohorts of the Health and Retirement Study: the early Baby Boomers in 2004, and individuals in the same age group in 1992. Levels and patterns of total net worth have changed relatively little over time, though Boomers rely more on housing equity than their predecessors. Most important, planners in both cohorts arrive close to retirement with much higher wealth levels and display higher financial literacy than non-planners. Instrumental variables estimates show that planning behavior can explain the differences in savings and why some people arrive close to retirement with very little or no wealth. Klassifizierung: D91, E21
- 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.
- 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.