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The Savings Glut of the Old: Population Aging, the Risk Premium, and the Murder-Suicide of the Rentier

Joseph Kopecky and Alan Taylor

No 29944, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: Population aging has been linked to a global savings glut and a decline in safe real interest rates. Conversely, risky real returns have not fallen as much, if at all, with equity risk premia on the rise. An existing literature can explain changes in safe rates using demographics. We go further to account for divergent returns on different assets as well as the underlying surge in the wealth-income ratio and its asset composition. Empirical evidence from historical panel data shows that demographic shifts are correlated with asset returns and risk premia. We build a heterogeneous agent life-cycle model with two assets (a safe bond and equity) and with aggregate risk. Aging demographics can help to simultaneously explain three key trends: the rising wealth-income ratio, the falling risk free rate, and an increasing risk premium. The shifts exert less pressure on risky returns as high-wealth elderly reallocate away from equities: aging makes retirement saving a “crowded trade” but more so for bonds. Projecting our model to 2050, aging pushes the safe rate below zero, but the risk premium remains elevated, as post-boomer demographics push asset returns to unprecedented and persistently low levels.

JEL-codes: E21 E43 G11 J11 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022-04
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-age, nep-dem, nep-dge, nep-mac and nep-upt
Note: AP EFG IFM ME
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (2)

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