The retirement-savings puzzle reviewed: the role of housing and bequests

Eduard Suari Andreu, Robertus Alessie, Viola Angelini

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17 Citations (Scopus)
188 Downloads (Pure)


The so-called retirement-savings puzzle is a phenomenon by which, contrary to what the standard life-cycle model predicts, households do not run down their wealth significantly during retirement. In this review paper, we survey the literature on the retirement-savings puzzle and we connect it with the literature on housing equity during retirement. To establish a link between these two streams of literature, we use as a framework the work of Nakajima and Telyukova (2013a, Home equity in retirement, UCSD Working Paper) and Nakajima and Telyukova (2017, Reverse mortgage loans: a quantitative analysis, Journal of Finance 72: 911-950), who find that home-ownership interacts with factors that explain the retirement-savings puzzle, notably with the bequest motive. We complement the results by Nakajima and Telyukova by relating them to the literature on altruistic bequests, strategic bequests and housing as a commitment device, all of which give further insights on the connection between home-ownership and bequests. We complement our review of the literature with descriptive evidence using the Netherlands as a case study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-225
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Economic Surveys
Issue number1
Early online date25-Jan-2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2019


  • Altruistic bequests
  • Bequest motive
  • Commitment
  • Housing
  • Retirement
  • Savings
  • Strategic bequests
  • TIME
  • LOVE
  • CARE


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