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Abstract

Retirement Savings Portfolio Management
by Jeff Dominitz and Angela Hung
WP 2006-138
We assess the welfare implications of alternative retirement plan investment options given that households may not invest according to optimal portfolio choice theory but may instead use simple decision rules. We simulate the performance of lifestyle, lifecycle, and other simple strategies for allocating retirement savings. We find that if investors use simple rules of thumb to choose investments, then the impact of these strategies on welfare depend to a large extent on the choice set they are offered. If larger choice sets cause them to undertake more risk, then risk tolerant individuals may tend to be made better off. If larger choice sets cause them to reduce suboptimally low levels of portfolio risk, then the increased choice set may make them substantially worse off. The welfare effects of plan designs that induce lifecycle investing, which tends to be conservative over the lifetime, therefore depend crucially on the counterfactual portfolio composition, as well as preferences and non-retirement wealth.
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