Retirement Saving and Decumulation in a Persistent Low-Return Environment

Thumbnail Image
Penn collection
Wharton Pension Research Council Working Papers
Degree type
Grant number
Copyright date
Related resources
Fichtner, Jason J
Seligmann, Jason S

Recent economic conditions have vastly changed the retirement landscape as a lengthy period of low interest rates have made building wealth for retirement harder and the risk of depleting wealth during the decumulation phase of retirement greater than at any time in recent history. The retirement environment presents challenges, over (i) the period for which interest rate remain low, and (ii) once interest rates appreciably increase--as fixed income assets then decrease in value. This paper addresses two related topics: first, how have households responded to the current low interest rate environment and second, are there alternative responses or investments which households might do well to consider? Beginning with the first topic: we employ the HRS to first investigate impacts of the 2008 – 2014 low interest rate impacts on savings, wealth and asset allocation both ahead of and while in retirement. As well as employing a full sample we report on the responses of the subset of households who have been relatively successful at building and preserving wealth over this period. Following this analytic work we consider alternative portfolio and wealth management strategies targeting increases in equities and delayed participation in Social Security in terms of their potential to add value in persistent low return environments.

Date Range for Data Collection (Start Date)
Date Range for Data Collection (End Date)
Digital Object Identifier
Series name and number
Publication date
Volume number
Issue number
Publisher DOI
Journal Issue
The published version of this Working Paper may be found in the 2018 publication: How Persistent Low Returns Will Shape Saving and Retirement (
Recommended citation