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Demand for life annuities from married couples with a bequest motive

Carlos Vidal-Melia () and Ana Lejã Rraga-Garcã A

Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, 2006, vol. 5, issue 2, 197-229

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to explain the ‘annuities puzzle’ in greater depth by introducing the bequest motive. It will try to determine whether this motive really is a relevant feature influencing the demand for life annuities from married couples. With this aim in mind, we develop an optimization model of the utility provided by purchasing a life annuity with contingent survivor benefit or a joint survivor life annuity. Our model is based on that first put forward by Brown and Poterba (2000), to which we have added elements from other models, such as Friedman and Warshawsky's (1990) and Vidal and Lejárraga's (2004), which include the bequest motive. This will enable us to calculate the annuity equivalent wealth and the optimal percentage of wealth to annuitize in various contexts: the possibility of access to actuarially fair annuity markets, the inclusion of so-called market imperfections, and the assumption that couples already have part of their wealth in pre-existing life annuities. Numerical results are presented for the case of Spain. The bequest motive is found not to be a significant factor influencing the demand for annuities from couples. Indeed very few couples would be willing to purchase them once we take into account the combined effects of market imperfections, the possibility of pre-existing annuities and the bequest motive. These findings have repercussions for policy makers regulating defined contribution capitalization systems, which are complementary to defined benefit systems.

Date: 2006
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