Vanguard Research Initiative

UNDERSTANDING SPENDING, PORTFOLIO CHOICE, HEALTH-CARE, AND BEQUESTS OF OLDER AMERICANS

The Vanguard Research Initiative is a unique research collaboration between Vanguard, NYU, and the University of Michigan. It gathers data on a panel of over 9,000 Vanguard clients. In addition to administrative account data, the project has completed 3 surveys: Survey 1 (wealth measurement); Survey 2 (Strategic Survey Questions, Annuities, and Long Term Care; and Survey 3 (Family and Spending) have been completed, as have two papers. Three papers have been completed:

  • Long-Term Care Utility and Late in Life Savings (Under Revision for the Journal of Political Economy)Older wealth-holders spend down assets slowly. Is this more due to bequest motives or high long-term care costs? Using new Strategic Survey Questions (SSQs) that elicit stated preferences we find that long term care (LTC) costs are significantly more important for the majority of wealth holders.

 

  • Late-In-Life Risks and the Under-Insurance Puzzle : Individuals face significant late-in-life risks, including LTC needs. Yet they hold little corresponding insurance (LTCI). We investigate the degree to which a fundamental lack of interest, poor product features, and possible behavioral factors determine low LTCI holdings. We estimate a rich set of individual-level preferences and use a life-cycle model to find that ideal insurance would be far more widely held than are products in the market. We find that flaws in existing products provide only a partial explanation for this under-insurance puzzle, with analogous findings for the gap between estimated and actual annuity holdings.

 

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