Year of publication
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Financial literacy among the young: evidence and implications for consumer policy (2010)
- We examined financial literacy among the young using the most recent wave of the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. We showed that financial literacy is low; fewer than one-third of young adults possess basic knowledge of interest rates, inflation, and risk diversification. Financial literacy was strongly related to sociodemographic characteristics and family financial sophistication. Specifically, a college-educated male whose parents had stocks and retirement savings was about 45 percentage points more likely to know about risk diversification than a female with less than a high school education whose parents were not wealthy. These findings have implications for consumer policy. JEL Classification: D91 Keywords: Financial Knowledge, Peer Effects, Family Background
- 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. JEL Classification: D91 Keywords: Financial Knowledge, Financial Sophistication, Retirement Planning
- 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
- 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