The Family as an Incomplete Annuities Market

Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Avia Spivak

NBER Working Paper No. 362
Issued in June 1979
NBER Program(s):, Public Economics

A new empirical study of the relation between money, nominal income, prices, and real output in postwar quarterly U.S. data rejects virtually all of the conclusions reached by Families provide individuals with risk sharing opportunities which may not otherwise be available. Within the family there is a degree of trust and a level of information which alleviates three key problems in the provision of insurance by markets open to the general public, namely, moral hazard, adverse selection, and deception. The informational advantages of pooling risk within families must be set against the inability of families to provide complete insurance because of the small size of the risk pooling group. This paper demonstrates how families can provide insurance against uncertain dates of death. Death risk sharing family arrangements effectively constitute an incomplete annuities market. Our analysis indicates that these arrangements even in small families can substitute by more than70% for complete annuities. Given the adverse selection problem and transactions costs in public annuity markets, risk pooling in families may well be preferred to purchasing market annuities. In the absence of organized public markets in annuities, these risk sharing arrangements provide powerful economic incentives for marriage and family formation. The paper suggests that inter-family transfers need have nothing to do with altruistic feelings; rather, they may simply reflect risk sharing behavior of completely selfish family members.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w0362

Published: Kotlikoff, Laurence J. and Avia Spivak. "The Family as an Incomplete Annuties Market." Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 89, No. 2, (April 1981), pp . 372-391. citation courtesy of

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