Wharton Pension Research Council Working Papers

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



Inaccurate perceptions regarding life expectancy can lead to suboptimal financial decisions with long-term consequences, including undersaving prior to retirement, and overspending during retirement. As prior research suggests that Covid-19 mortality has disproportionately harmed those with low incomes, African Americans, and Hispanics in the United States, we seek to determine whether subjective survival perceptions among these groups changed in a manner consistent with observed outcomes. We fielded two online experimental surveys of US residents: one took place early in the pandemic outbreak, and the second, a year later. Using vignettes, we examine whether minorities’ perceptions regarding longevity at the outbreak were consistent with observed reality, and how these compared to members of the white majority population. Furthermore, the panel aspect of our study enables us to test whether and how these perceptions updated over time during the pandemic. Finally, we show how these perceptions related to advice regarding retirement saving and drawdowns.


Minorities, life expectancy, longevity risk, financial behaviors

JEL Code

D1, D91, G41, G51

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 Finance workshop. © 2022 Hurwitz, Mitchell, and Sade


The authors acknowledge research support for this work from the TIAA Institute, the Pension Research Council/Boettner Center at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the Kruger Center and the Albertson-Waltuch Chair in Business Administration at the Hebrew University, and excellent programming support from Yong Yu.

Included in

Economics Commons



Date Posted: 04 August 2022