Staff Report 499

Health and Mortality Delta: Assessing the Welfare Cost of Household Insurance Choice

Ralph S. J. Koijen
Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh
Motohiro Yogo | Consultant

Revised December 29, 2015

We develop a pair of risk measures, health and mortality delta, for the universe of life and health insurance products. A life-cycle model of insurance choice simplifies to replicating the optimal health and mortality delta through a portfolio of insurance products. We estimate the model to explain the observed variation in health and mortality delta implied by the ownership of life insurance, annuities including private pensions, and long-term care insurance in the Health and Retirement Study. For the median household aged 51 to 57, the lifetime welfare cost of market incompleteness and suboptimal choice is 3.2% of total wealth.

Published In: Journal of Finance (Vol. 71, No. 2, April 2016, pp. 957-1010)

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