Wharton Pension Research Council Working Papers

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



Older people often express regret about financial decisions made earlier in life that left them susceptible to old-age insecurity. Prior work has explored one outcome, saving regret, or peoples’ expressed wish that they had saved more earlier in life. The present paper extends attention to five additional areas regarding financial decisions, examining whether older Americans also regret not having insured better, claimed benefits and quit working too early, and becoming financially dependent on others. Using a controlled randomized experiment conducted on 1,764 respondents age 50+ in the Health and Retirement Study, we show that providing people objective longevity information does alter their self-reported financial regret. Specifically, giving people information about objective survival probabilities more than doubled regret expressed about not having purchased long term care, and it also boosted their regret by 2.4 times for not having purchased lifetime income. We conclude that information provision can be a potent, as well as cost-effective, method of alerting people to retirement risk.


retirement, insurance, benefit claiming, annuitization, financial dependence

JEL Code

D14, D15, D83, G22, 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 other institutions with which the authors are affiliated. This research is part of the NBER Aging program and the Household Portfolio workshop. © 2022 Hurwitz and Mitchell


The authors acknowledge research support for this work from the Health and Retirement Study at the University of Michigan, and the Pension Research Council/Boettner Center at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. We thank Yong Yu for excellent programming.

Included in

Economics Commons



Date Posted: 21 November 2022