When can insurers offer products that dominate delayed old-age pension benefit claiming?

It is common practice for public pension schemes to offer individuals the option to delay benefit claiming until after the normal retirement age and adjust the annual benefit level as a result. This adjustment is often not actuarially neutral with respect to the age at which benefits are claimed. The degree of actuarial nonequivalencevaries by interest rates as well as individual characteristics such as gender and age. In this paper we show that actuarial nonequivalence can imply that deferring benefit claiming is suboptimal, irrespective of the preferences of the individual. Specifically, we derive preference-free conditions under which delaying benefit claiming is dominated by claiming benefits early, and using them to buy super-replicating annuity products from an insurance company. We find that the degree of actuarial onequivalence in public pension schemes is such that such dominating strategies can exist even when the purchase of annuities would be significantly more costly than what is currently observed. If individuals choose to strategically exploit these dominatingstrategies, this will affect benefit claiming behavior, which in turn affects long run program costs.

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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