Redistribution and Insurance: Mandatory Annuitization with Mortality Heterogeneity

Jeffrey R. Brown

NBER Working Paper No. 9256
Issued in October 2002
NBER Program(s):Aging, Public Economics

This paper examines the distributional implications of mandatory longevity insurance when there is mortality heterogeneity in the population. Previous research has demonstrated the significant financial redistribution that occurs under alternative annuity programs in the presence of differential mortality across groups. This paper embeds that analysis into a life cycle framework that allows for an examination of distributional effects on a utility-adjusted basis. It finds that the degree of redistribution that occurs from the introduction of a mandatory annuity program is substantially lower on a utility-adjusted basis than when evaluated on a purely financial basis. In a simple life-cycle model with no bequests, complete annuitization is welfare enhancing even for those individuals with much higher-than-average expected mortality rates, so long as administrative costs are sufficiently low. These findings have implications for policy toward annuitization, particularly as part of a reformed Social Security system.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9256

Published: Brown, Jeffrey R. "Redistribution And Insurance: Mandatory Annuitization With Mortality Heterogeneity," Journal of Risk and Insurance, 2003, v70(1,Mar), 17-41. citation courtesy of

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