How deep is the annuity market participation puzzle?

Using U.K. microeconomic data, we analyze the empirical determinants of voluntary annuity market demand. We find that annuity market participation increases with financial wealth, life expectancy and education and decreases with other pension income and a possible bequest motive for surviving spouses. We then show that these empirically motivated determinants of annuity market participation have the same, quantitatively important, effects in a life-cycle model of annuity and life insurance demand, saving and portfolio choice.Moreover, reasonable preference parameters predict annuity demand levels comparable to the data. For stockholders, a strong bequest motive can simultaneously generate balanced portfolios and low annuity demand.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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