Joseph S. Briggs

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

October 2016Late-in-Life Risks and the Under-Insurance Puzzle
with John Ameriks, Andrew Caplin, Matthew D. Shapiro, Christopher Tonetti: w22726
Individuals face significant late-in-life risks, including needing long-term care (LTC). Yet, they hold little long-term care insurance (LTCI). Using both “strategic survey questions,” which identify preferences, and stated demand questions, this paper investigates the degree to which a fundamental lack of interest and poor product features determine low LTCI holdings. It estimates a rich set of individual-level preferences and uses a life-cycle model to predict insurance demand, finding that better insurance would be far more widely held than are products in the market. Comparing stated and model-predicted demand shows that flaws in existing products provide a significant, but partial, explanation for this under-insurance puzzle.
October 2015Windfall Gains and Stock Market Participation
with David Cesarini, Erik Lindqvist, Robert Östling: w21673
We estimate the causal effect of wealth on stock market participation using administrative data on Swedish lottery players. A $150,000 windfall gain increases stock ownership probability among pre-lottery non-participants by 12 percentage points, while pre-lottery stock holders are unaffected. The effect is immediate, seemingly permanent and heterogeneous in intuitive ways. Standard lifecycle models predict wealth effects far too large to match our causal estimates under common calibrations. Additional analyses suggest a limited role for explanations such as procrastination or real-estate investment. Overall, results suggest that “nonstandard” beliefs or preferences contribute to the nonparticipation of households across many demographic groups.
February 2015Long-Term-Care Utility and Late-in-Life Saving
with John Ameriks, Andrew Caplin, Matthew D. Shapiro, Christopher Tonetti: w20973
Older wealthholders spend down assets much more slowly than predicted by classic life-cycle models. This paper introduces health-dependent utility into a model in which preferences for bequests, expenditures when in need of long-term care (LTC), and ordinary consumption combine with health and longevity uncertainty to explain saving behavior. To sharply identify motives, it develops strategic survey questions (SSQs) that elicit stated preferences. The model is estimated using these SSQs and wealth data from the Vanguard Research Initiative. A robust finding is that the desire to self-insure against long-term-care risk explains a substantial fraction of the wealthholding of older Americans.
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