Bridge over ocean
1 November 2007 Financial Analysts Journal Volume 63, Issue 6

Behavioral Obstacles in the Annuity Market

  1. Wei-Yin Hu
  2. Jason S. Scott

As Baby Boomers enter retirement, they will look to the investment industry for ways to generate income from accumulated savings. Why most retirees do not purchase longevity insurance in the form of lifetime annuities is a long-standing puzzle. Mental accounting and loss aversion can explain the unpopularity of annuities by framing them as risky gambles where potential losses loom larger than potential gains. Moreover, behavioral anomalies can explain the prevalence of “period certain” annuities, which guarantee a minimum number of payouts. Finally, investors may prefer “longevity annuities” purchased today to begin payouts in the future to immediate annuities because investors overweight the small probability of living long enough to receive large future payouts.

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