Navigating Complex Financial Decisions at Retirement: Evidence from Annuity Choices in Public Sector Pensions
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Choices regarding the disposition of wealth at retirement can have substantial implications for retirement income security. We analyze the factors determining annuity payout option choices within the context of a public sector defined pension plan with no default annuity option. Using combined administrative records and survey data, we explore the role of individual and household characteristics as well as risk preferences, time preferences, and financial literacy. We also document retiree well-being and satisfaction with retirement decision making. The evidence is consistent with predictions over which households might benefit most from each annuity option. Comparing retirees who chose different types of annuities, we find that these groups of retirees report very different levels of well-being in retirement. All retirees report lower levels of retirement income security over time, with strong differences among those who chose different types of annuities.
David Vanderweide is employed in the Fiscal Research Division of the North Carolina General Assembly. The Fiscal Research Division is a non-partisan central staff agency that provides budget and tax-related analysis to all members of the General Assembly. He is also a member of the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System.