Consumer Preferences for Annuities: Beyond NPV

Publication Date:
Jan 2012
Project Programs:
Consumer Finance Working Group

While consumer financial decision making has begun attracting renewed attention in marketing, issues of consumer decumulation of retirement wealth have remained relatively unexplored. Research on decumulation presents an interesting problem for both behavioral and quantitative marketing researchers; it is a consumer choice problem with large stakes, multiple sources of uncertainty, and difficult tradeoffs. As a tangible contribution to such research, we measure and model individual preferences for simple life annuities using a choice-based stated-preference survey of adults aged 45-65 recruited from a nationwide internet panel. The survey presents each annuity in terms of its consumer-relevant attributes such as monthly income, yearly inflation adjustments, period certain guarantees, and the reliability rating of the issuing insurance company, and it includes a “no choice” option that allows the consumer to self-manage their retirement assets. Our model of preferences allows each attribute to influence utility beyond its influence on the actuarial present value of the annuity, i.e. the NPV of the expected payments. We find that each of the attributes influence preferences beyond their impact on the NPV to varying degree, and we discuss the implication of such consumer preferences for marketers of annuities and policy makers interested in promoting annuitization.


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