John G. Watson
725 Magnolia Street
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Institutional Affiliation: Stanford Graduate School of Business
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|February 2020||Can Low Retirement Savings Be Rationalized?|
with Jason S. Scott, John B. Shoven, Sita N. Slavov: w26784
Simple presentations of the life cycle model often suggest a constant level of real consumption in retirement. Similarly, financial planners commonly suggest that people save for retirement in such a way as to enable them to maintain a level retirement standard of living equal to their standard of living while working. However, constant consumption with age is only optimal under the precise and unlikely condition that the subjective rate of time preference is equal to the real interest rate. Most people exhibit a positive rate of pure time preference and additionally discount the future by both mortality and morbidity risks. In comparison, the real interest rate is roughly zero percent and the term structure of interest rates suggests that this condition is likely to persist. These consi...
|February 2019||Retirement Implications of a Low Wage Growth, Low Real Interest Rate Economy|
with Jason Scott, John B. Shoven, Sita Slavov: w25556
We examine the implications of persistent low real interest rates and wage growth rates on individuals nearing retirement. We begin by reviewing the concept of r star – the long-term real, safe interest rate that is neither expansionary nor contractionary – and presenting recent estimates suggesting that this value has declined. We then examine the implications of low returns and low wage growth for individuals currently aged 45 and 55. We find that low returns and low wage growth have substantial welfare effects, with compensating variations that are often in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Low returns increase optimal Social Security claiming ages and the marginal benefit of working longer, while low wage growth decreases the marginal benefit of working longer. Low economy-wide wag...