Unhedgeable Inflation Risk within Pension Schemes

  • Damiaan Chen Damiaan Chen
  • Roel Beetsma Roel Beetsma
  • Sweder van Wijnbergen Sweder van Wijnbergen

Pension schemes generally aim to protect the purchasing power of their participants, but cannot completely do this when due to market incompleteness inflation risk cannot be fully hedged. Without a market price for inflation risk the value of a pension contract depends on the investor’s risk appetite and inflation risk exposure. We develop a valuation framework to deal with two sources of unhedgeable inflation risk: the absence of instruments to hedge general consumer price inflation risk and differences in group-specific consumption bundles from the economy-wide bundle. We find that the absence of financial instruments to hedge inflation risks may reduce lifetime welfare by up to 6% of certainty-equivalent consumption for commonly assumed degrees of risk aversion. Regulators face a dilemma as young (workers) and old participants (retirees) have different capacities to absorb losses from unhedgeable inflation risks and as a consequence have a different risk appetite.

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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