The retirement-savings puzzle reviewed: the role of housing and bequests

The so-called retirement-savings puzzle is a phenomenon by which, contrary to what the standard life-cycle model predicts, households do not run down their wealth significantly during retirement. In this review paper, we survey the literature on the retirement-savings puzzle and we connect it with the literature on housing equity during retirement. To establish a link between these two streams of literature, we use as a framework the work of Nakajima and Telyukova (2013a, Home equity in retirement, UCSD Working Paper) and Nakajima and Telyukova (2017, Reverse mortgage loans: a quantitative analysis, Journal of Finance 72: 911–950), who find that home-ownership interacts with factors that explain the retirement-savings puzzle, notably with the bequest motive. We complement the results by Nakajima and Telyukova by relating them to the literature on altruistic bequests, strategic bequests and housing as a commitment device, all of which give further insights on the connection between home-ownership and bequests. We complement our review of the literature with descriptive evidence using the Netherlands as a case study.

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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