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NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Lorenzo Forni

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October 1999The Adequacy of Life Insurance: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Survey
with B. Douglas Bernheim, Jagadeesh Gokhale, Laurence J. Kotlikoff: w7372
This study examines the adequacy of life insurance among married American couples approaching retirement. It improves upon previous work in two ways. First, it is based on recent, high quality data (the 1992 Health and Retirement Survey with matched Social Security earnings histories). Second, it employs new financial planning software to evaluate the life insurance needs of each household. This software embodies an elaborate life- cycle planning model that accounts for a broad array of demographic, economic, and financial characteristics. We find that a sizable minority of couples in the HRS sample are significantly underinsured. Almost one third of wives and more than 10 percent of husbands would have suffered living standard reductions of 20 percent or more had their spouses died i...

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