Self-Annuitization and Ruin in Retirement

North American Actuarial Journal
Volume 4, Issue 4, 2000
Moshe Arye Milevsky & Chris Robinson


At retirement, most individuals face a choice between voluntary annuitization and discretionary management of assets with systematic withdrawals for consumption purposes. Annuitization–buying a life annuity from an insurance company–assures a lifelong consumption stream that cannot be outlived, but it is at the expense of a complete loss of liquidity. On the other hand, discretionary management and consumption from assets–self-annuitization–preserves flexibility but with the distinct risk that a constant standard of living will not be maintainable.

In this paper we compute the lifetime and eventual probability of ruin (PoR) for an individual who wishes to consume a fixed periodic amount–a self-constructed annuity–from an initial endowment invested in a portfolio earning a stochastic (lognormal) rate of return. The lifetime PoR is the probability that net wealth will hit zero prior to a stochastic date of death. The eventual PoR is the probability that net wealth will ever hit zero for an infinitely lived individual.

We demonstrate that the probability of ruin can be represented as the probability that the stochastic present value (SPV) of consumption is greater than the initial investable wealth. The lifetime and eventual probabilities of ruin are then obtained by evaluating one minus the cumulative density function of the SPV at the initial wealth level. In that eventual case, we offer a precise analytical solution because the SPV is known to be a reciprocal gamma distribution. For the lifetime case, using the Gompertz law of mortality, we provide two approximations. Both involve “moment matching” techniques that are motivated by results in Arithmetic Asian option pricing theory. We verify the accuracy of these approximations using Monte Carlo simulations. Finally, a numerical case study is provided using Canadian mortality and capital market parameters. It appears that the lifetime probability of ruin–for a consumption rate that is equal to the life annuity payout–is at its lowest with a well-diversified portfolio.

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