Wharton Pension Research Council Working Papers

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



We experimentally study individuals’ perceptions about and advice to others regarding retirement savings and annuitization during the pandemic. Many people recommend that others save more for retirement, but those most affected by the pandemic tell others to save and annuitize less. We investigate two possible channels for this result and show that the pandemic does not substantially alter optimism regarding survival probabilities. Hence, we conclude that economic factors are driving our results. Consequently, some financial ramifications of the COVID-19 outbreak are yet to be revealed, as the pandemic is having longer-term effects on peoples’ willingness to save and annuitize.


retirement expectations; annuity; longevity; life expectancy; framing; behavioral economics; household finance

JEL Code

G5, G4, J26

Working Paper Number


Copyright/Permission Statement

All findings and conclusions expressed are those of the authors and not the official views of the TIAA Institute or any of the other institutions with which the authors are affiliated. This research is part of the NBER Aging program and the Household Portfolio workshop. © 2021 Pension Research Council of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved.


The authors acknowledge research support for this work from the TIAA Institute and the Pension Research Council/Boettner Center at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The authors thank Arie Kapteyn for providing helpful comments at the 2021 ASSA meetings.

Included in

Economics Commons



Date Posted: 13 January 2021