The choice between an annuity and a lump-sum: results from Swiss pension funds

This paper uses unique micro data from Swiss employer-based pension plans to study the annuitization decision at retirement. The administrative nature of our data, though limited with respect to individual background characteristics, allows us to analyze real choices over large retirement balances, rather than subjectively reported intentions to annuitize. We find a strong and robust impact of a utility-based measure of the annuity’s value (computed within a life-cycle framework) on individual annuitization rates. Low accumulation of retirement assets is strongly associated with the choice of the lump sum, presumably due to the availability of meanstested social assistance. The sponsor’s default option, in most cases the annuity, is also found to be highly influential in the decision to annuitize.

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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