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Consumer Preferences for Annuity Attributes: Beyond Net Present Value

  • Author(s): Shu, Suzanne B
  • Zeithammer, Robert
  • Payne, John W
  • et al.
Abstract

Decisions about life annuities are an important part of consumer decumulation of retirement assets, yet they are relatively underexplored by marketing researchers studying consumer financial decision making. In this article, the authors propose and estimate a model of individual preferences for life annuity attributes using a choice-based stated-preference survey. Annuities are presented in terms of consumer-relevant attributes such as monthly income, yearly adjustments, period certain guarantees, and company financial strength. The authors find that these attributes directly influence consumer preferences beyond their impact on the annuity's expected present value. The strength of the direct influence depends on how annuities are described: when annuities are represented only through basic attributes, consumers undervalue inflation protection, and preferences are not monotonically increasing in duration of period certain guarantees. When descriptions of annuities are enriched with cumulative payment information, consumers no longer undervalue inflation protection, but nonlinear preferences for period certain options remain. The authors find that among annuities with the same expected payout but different annual increases and period certain guarantees, the proportion of consumers who choose the annuity over self-management can vary by more than a factor of 2.

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