Date of Award:

12-2010

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Jean M. Lown

Abstract

Retirement security for Americans is one of the most critical public policy and personal financial issues and will be for decades in the future. Individuals that retire today can live an additional 30 or even 40 years with less secure income as corporations shift to defined contribution plans to fund retirement. Based on the life cycle savings hypothesis, immediate annuities should be appealing to retirees because they insure against the risks of outliving retirement assets by converting funds into a lifelong stream of income. However, research has found that retirees are reluctant to annuitize their wealth. This study examined the attitudes of Utah State University employees toward annuitization of retirement assets and explored the relationship between employee characteristics and their attitudes toward immediate annuities.

Data for this study were collected through an online questionnaire emailed to Utah State University employees who participate in a defined contribution plan. The survey gathered information on retirement portfolio losses, expected longevity, financial confidence, familiarity with annuities, and attitudes toward immediate annuities. A total of 744 individuals answered the survey for a response rate of 43.2%.

Based on the results of independent t tests, there were statistically significant differences between the attitudes of women and men toward immediate annuities. Women held more positive attitudes toward immediate annuities than men, and women who had taken a retirement planning class had more positive attitudes than women who had not attended a retirement class. In contrast, men who had attended a retirement class expressed less positive attitudes toward immediate annuities than men who had not. Male overconfidence in their investment knowledge and skills may explain this finding.

A Pearson correlation coefficient revealed a negative correlation between risk aversion and attitudes toward annuities. As investment risk tolerance decreases, attitudes toward immediate annuities become more positive. An analysis of variance found that individuals with longer than average life expectancies had more positive attitudes toward immediate annuities than subjects with shorter than average life expectancies. Surprisingly, individuals who claimed to be most familiar with immediate annuities showed the least positive attitudes toward annuities.

Income and assets, marital status, and financial confidence were not statistically significantly related to attitudes toward annuities. Implications for consumers, financial professionals, educators, and policymakers were drawn from the results of the study.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on November 29, 2010.

Share

COinS