Journal of Banking and Finance , Vol. 114, Article 105783

Putting the Pension Back in 401(k) Plans: Optimal versus Default Longevity Income Annuities

The US Treasury recently permitted deferred longevity income annuities to be included in pension plan menus as a default payout solution, yet little research has investigated whether more people should convert some of the $18 trillion they hold in employer-based defined contribution plans into lifelong income streams. We investigate this innovation using a calibrated lifecycle consumption and portfolio choice model embodying realistic institutional considerations. Our welfare analysis shows that defaulting a modest portion of retirees’ 401(k) assets (over a threshold) is an attractive way to enhance retirement security, enhancing welfare by up to 20% of retiree plan accruals.