The impact of information on Subjective Survival Probabilities and Willingness to Insure against Old-Age Risk. A survey experiment using a probability internet panel

Last registered on July 27, 2022

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
The impact of information on Subjective Survival Probabilities and Willingness to Insure against Old-Age Risk. A survey experiment using a probability internet panel
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0009773
Initial registration date
July 18, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
July 21, 2022, 11:47 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
July 27, 2022, 8:21 PM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
USC

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2022-07-27
End date
2022-08-29
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
We conduct an information experiment with an obfuscated control to study whether information about objective life expectancy on people’s subjective life expectancies and willingness to insure against longevity risk. The treatment provides information on the expected number of years left to live for a person of the age and gender of the respondent. We study the effects of the experiment on 1) Subjective Survival Probabilities (SSPs) to age 75 and 85, 2) Expected Claiming Ages for social security retirement benefits, 3) and preferences over a lump-sum versus an annuitized windfall ( using social security retirement as the context). Delaying Social Security claiming benefits is the most common way people can annuitize wealth, and hence one of the most important ways to insure against longevity risk.

We aim to survey 2,000 respondents, broadly representative of the US population of adults between the ages of 30 and 62, with an oversample of respondents who are over pessimistic about their expected longevity. We will over-sample respondents whose responses to earlier surveys seem to underestimate their survival probabilities to ages 75 and 85 (that is, we will oversample respondents who are over pessimistic about their expected longevity).

Respondents will be sampled from the Understanding America Study (UAS), using responses to questions about Subjective Survival Probabilities from earlier surveys in the UAS study.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Perez-Arce, Francisco. 2022. "The impact of information on Subjective Survival Probabilities and Willingness to Insure against Old-Age Risk. A survey experiment using a probability internet panel ." AEA RCT Registry. July 27. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.9773
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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Treatment respondents will receive statistical information about longevity.
Intervention Start Date
2022-07-27
Intervention End Date
2022-08-29

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Subjective Survival Probabilities

Expected Retirement Claiming Age

Annuity valuation
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
• Subjective Survival Probabilities (SSPs) to Age 75 and 85

We will field two questions as asked in the Health and Retirement Study questionnaires fielded in the Understanding America Study. The answers to these questions will be used as the measure of Subjective Longevity Expectations.

• Retirement benefit claiming age.

Delaying Social Security claiming benefits is the most common way in which people can annuitize wealth, and hence one of the most important ways in which people can insure against longevity risk.

After a brief description of the relationship between monthly benefit and claiming age in the Old-Age Social Security program, we will ask the age, between 62 and 70, when the respondent aims to claim benefits.

• Valuation of $100 dollar per month in perpetuity (presented as 100-per-month increase in the Social Security retirement benefits)

We use this to measure respondents’ valuation of annuities. These survey items are based on Brown et al (2017).

We ask respondents to choose between receiving monthly benefits at a $100 above their expected level, versus keeping them at their expected level but receiving a $20,000 lump sum payment at age 65.

Two subsequent questions repeat the same question but varying the lump sum (LS) amount. The LS amount branches out depending on the preceding question, resulting in 8 possible intervals where the annuity valuation lies
o 0 and 5,000
o 5,000 and 10,000
o 10,000 and 15,000
o 15,000 and 20,000

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
• Time spent in the rest of the survey, particularly:
o Information screen on social security retirement benefits.
o Time spent reading the social security statement and factsheets.
• Whether or not click on the link to My Social Security Account (and hence measure interest in planning for the future).
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Randomization to information about longevity or placebo information.
Experimental Design Details
There will be two sub-arms in the treatment group. The firm sub-arm, “life expectancy stats only”, will receive only the personalized life expectancy statistic. The second sub-arm, “life expectancy stats+ scientific advances” will further receive a text describing some recent medical advances.

There will be two sub-arms in the control group. The first sub-arm, “Pure Control” will receive information about birth trends. The second sub-arm, “Obfuscated control” or “Teppa arm control” will receive information on survival probabilities for different groups (an information screen that we have previously shown not to increase life expectancy”

Randomize 1/4 Group A (Life Expectancy Stats Only), Group B (Pure Control), Group C,, Combined treatment (life expectancy stats+ scientific advances), Group D (Teppa arm control, “obfuscated control))

The experiment includes two treatment arms and two control arms. See randomization in Section 0 and the Appendix C for the screens in each arm. For the main analyses, the variable Ti will equal 1 if individual is assigned to either of the two treatment arms, and 0 if assigned to either of the two control groups.
Randomization Method
Randomization via survey software.
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
~2,400 survey respondents
Sample size: planned number of observations
~2,400 survey respondents
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1,200 treatment and control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Southern California Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
2022-03-08
IRB Approval Number
University of Southern California Institutional Review Board
Analysis Plan

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Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials