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从20多岁开始就为退休存钱?这可能是个错误

从20多岁开始就为退休存钱?这可能是个错误

葛继甫(Geoff Colvin) 2021年02月18日
生活远比储蓄更重要。

如果你认为,那些没有为退休而进行储蓄准备的年轻人犯下了一个可怕的错误,请举手。

大部分人可能都会举手,这可以理解。一个广泛的共识认为,由于人们的储蓄不足,美国社会正面临着退休危机,而年轻人的储蓄情况尤其糟糕。投资巨头 Vanguard的报告显示,美国20多岁的劳动力参加员工退休储蓄计划的可能性最小。在过去的五年里,他们参与退休储蓄计划的可能性更是出现显著下滑。他们浪费了让自己的储蓄在尽可能长的时间内获得复利的大好机会。因此,自动注册有雇主赞助的401(K)退休储蓄计划账户是个很好的选择。

但如果这种想法是错误的,而年轻人的行为正是超理性经济模型所说的那样呢?著名专家的最新研究发现,许多年轻工人正是这样做的。在刚刚发布的一份工作报告中,作者得出结论:“对于预期收入大幅增长的流动性受限的年轻人来说,最佳退休储蓄为零。”

这一事实极度令人震惊,在长期以来一直建议人们为退休生活进行最大限度可行储蓄的金融咨询行业,这也是一种亵渎。但一篇新论文的作者们将他们的反直觉式论点建立在了一个无可争议的现实基础上——生活远比储蓄更重要。

这篇经济学文献将幸福(而非储蓄)指定为需要最大化的指标。文章的作者之一、斯坦福大学(Stanford University)的教授约翰•肖文在接受《财富》杂志采访时称,这篇新论文的关注重点是“来自物质消费的整体生活满足感”。肖文是退休经济学、社会保障、医疗保险和养老金方面的资深权威专家。

在经济学中,生活满意度基本不算是一个新概念。它其实就是经济学家所说的效用。肖文和他的同事们创建的经济模型假设收入能够用来消费,也可以用来储蓄;如果用来储蓄的话,能够存入像401(K)这样有着不同比例的雇主匹配缴费的退休计划账户,也可以存入应税投资账户。肖文表示,消费今日储蓄的未来效用被打了折扣,原因有三:“人们表现得不耐烦;在遥不可知的未来,他们可能已经不在人世;未来的他们也可能遭遇健康问题,比如患有痴呆症。”

该模型假设,一位在1995年出生的劳动者从25岁开始工作,到67岁退休,社会保障取代了其税后收入的34%;模型还包括退休账户的最低分配要求。

在过去,利率较高,大部分劳动力都是高中毕业生,他们的经通胀调整后收入在职业生涯中只会略有提高。根据肖文的模型,传统的建议是有意义的,即人们应该在就业之初就开始为退休储蓄。

然而,在加入几个基于当今环境的合理假设后,结论就开始发生变化了。大学毕业生在25岁时的收入只有45岁或50岁时峰值收入的42%,而且经通胀调整后的利率(衡量安全投资回报的指标)极低,约为0%。在这种情况下,一个理性的、想要将整体生活满意度最大化的人要到41岁才会开始为退休储蓄,而且前提是他们的雇主为他们的401(K)计划匹配缴费50%;如果没有雇主匹配缴费,他们要到44岁才开始储蓄。

而如果经通胀调整后的安全回报率更高(达3%),他们会理性地更早地开始储蓄。可即便如此,他们也不会在37岁(雇主会为401K计划匹配缴费)或者40岁之前(雇主不会为401K计划进行匹配缴费)之前开始储蓄。

这些结论会令很多人感到震惊,因为这种做法完全不理性。当回报率较低时,劳动力不是应该更早——而不是更晚开始储蓄吗?同样,如果雇主不为他们的401(K)计划进行匹配缴费,他们不应该更早开始储蓄吗?但请注意,我们的目标不是最大限度地进行储蓄,而是实现最高的整体生活满意度。当投资回报率较低时,劳动者几乎没有动力去牺牲今天的消费来换取几年后几乎不会增加的消费。雇主匹配缴费能够使劳动者在较少牺牲当前消费的前提下实现一定的储蓄水平,因此他们才愿意更早地开始储蓄。

文献的作者们也承认,现实情况要更加复杂。人们储蓄的原因除了退休之外,还有买房或为应对突发事件做准备;在有孩子之前开始储蓄可能是明智之举,因为有了孩子之后储蓄会更加困难。尽管如此,他们还是表示:“我们的总体论点仍然适用于发生在流动性不足的雇主赞助养老金账户中的退休储蓄。”

这就又回到了自动注册401(K)计划的问题上,这也是过去十年间关于退休储蓄的最显著的趋势。Vanguard公司表示,其记录的计划中有一半现在要求参与者选择退出退休计划,而不是选择加入。这种结构受到了许多人的称赞。但这项新研究提出了一个重要警告。作者的结论是:“适用于所有年龄段劳动者的自动注册,可能会促使年轻人犯错,而非阻止他们犯错。”(财富中文网)

译者:张翯

如果你认为,那些没有为退休而进行储蓄准备的年轻人犯下了一个可怕的错误,请举手。

大部分人可能都会举手,这可以理解。一个广泛的共识认为,由于人们的储蓄不足,美国社会正面临着退休危机,而年轻人的储蓄情况尤其糟糕。投资巨头 Vanguard的报告显示,美国20多岁的劳动力参加员工退休储蓄计划的可能性最小。在过去的五年里,他们参与退休储蓄计划的可能性更是出现显著下滑。他们浪费了让自己的储蓄在尽可能长的时间内获得复利的大好机会。因此,自动注册有雇主赞助的401(K)退休储蓄计划账户是个很好的选择。

但如果这种想法是错误的,而年轻人的行为正是超理性经济模型所说的那样呢?著名专家的最新研究发现,许多年轻工人正是这样做的。在刚刚发布的一份工作报告中,作者得出结论:“对于预期收入大幅增长的流动性受限的年轻人来说,最佳退休储蓄为零。”

这一事实极度令人震惊,在长期以来一直建议人们为退休生活进行最大限度可行储蓄的金融咨询行业,这也是一种亵渎。但一篇新论文的作者们将他们的反直觉式论点建立在了一个无可争议的现实基础上——生活远比储蓄更重要。

这篇经济学文献将幸福(而非储蓄)指定为需要最大化的指标。文章的作者之一、斯坦福大学(Stanford University)的教授约翰•肖文在接受《财富》杂志采访时称,这篇新论文的关注重点是“来自物质消费的整体生活满足感”。肖文是退休经济学、社会保障、医疗保险和养老金方面的资深权威专家。

在经济学中,生活满意度基本不算是一个新概念。它其实就是经济学家所说的效用。肖文和他的同事们创建的经济模型假设收入能够用来消费,也可以用来储蓄;如果用来储蓄的话,能够存入像401(K)这样有着不同比例的雇主匹配缴费的退休计划账户,也可以存入应税投资账户。肖文表示,消费今日储蓄的未来效用被打了折扣,原因有三:“人们表现得不耐烦;在遥不可知的未来,他们可能已经不在人世;未来的他们也可能遭遇健康问题,比如患有痴呆症。”

该模型假设,一位在1995年出生的劳动者从25岁开始工作,到67岁退休,社会保障取代了其税后收入的34%;模型还包括退休账户的最低分配要求。

在过去,利率较高,大部分劳动力都是高中毕业生,他们的经通胀调整后收入在职业生涯中只会略有提高。根据肖文的模型,传统的建议是有意义的,即人们应该在就业之初就开始为退休储蓄。

然而,在加入几个基于当今环境的合理假设后,结论就开始发生变化了。大学毕业生在25岁时的收入只有45岁或50岁时峰值收入的42%,而且经通胀调整后的利率(衡量安全投资回报的指标)极低,约为0%。在这种情况下,一个理性的、想要将整体生活满意度最大化的人要到41岁才会开始为退休储蓄,而且前提是他们的雇主为他们的401(K)计划匹配缴费50%;如果没有雇主匹配缴费,他们要到44岁才开始储蓄。

而如果经通胀调整后的安全回报率更高(达3%),他们会理性地更早地开始储蓄。可即便如此,他们也不会在37岁(雇主会为401K计划匹配缴费)或者40岁之前(雇主不会为401K计划进行匹配缴费)之前开始储蓄。

这些结论会令很多人感到震惊,因为这种做法完全不理性。当回报率较低时,劳动力不是应该更早——而不是更晚开始储蓄吗?同样,如果雇主不为他们的401(K)计划进行匹配缴费,他们不应该更早开始储蓄吗?但请注意,我们的目标不是最大限度地进行储蓄,而是实现最高的整体生活满意度。当投资回报率较低时,劳动者几乎没有动力去牺牲今天的消费来换取几年后几乎不会增加的消费。雇主匹配缴费能够使劳动者在较少牺牲当前消费的前提下实现一定的储蓄水平,因此他们才愿意更早地开始储蓄。

文献的作者们也承认,现实情况要更加复杂。人们储蓄的原因除了退休之外,还有买房或为应对突发事件做准备;在有孩子之前开始储蓄可能是明智之举,因为有了孩子之后储蓄会更加困难。尽管如此,他们还是表示:“我们的总体论点仍然适用于发生在流动性不足的雇主赞助养老金账户中的退休储蓄。”

这就又回到了自动注册401(K)计划的问题上,这也是过去十年间关于退休储蓄的最显著的趋势。Vanguard公司表示,其记录的计划中有一半现在要求参与者选择退出退休计划,而不是选择加入。这种结构受到了许多人的称赞。但这项新研究提出了一个重要警告。作者的结论是:“适用于所有年龄段劳动者的自动注册,可能会促使年轻人犯错,而非阻止他们犯错。”(财富中文网)

译者:张翯

Raise your hand if you think young workers who save nothing for retirement are making a terrible mistake.

It seems likely that most hands went up, understandably. A broad consensus holds that America faces a retirement crisis because people don’t save enough, and young people are the worst savers. Workers in their twenties are by far the least likely to participate in employee retirement saving plans, investing giant Vanguard reports, and in the past five years they’ve become significantly less likely to participate. They’re squandering the opportunity to let their savings compound for the longest possible time. That’s why automatic enrollment in employer-sponsored 401(k) accounts is such a good idea.

But what if that thinking is wrongheaded, and young people are behaving just the way hyperrational economic models say they should? New research by eminent experts finds that many young workers are doing exactly that. In a just-released working paper, the authors conclude that “for liquidity-constrained young adults who anticipate significant earnings growth, optimal retirement saving is zero.”

This is beyond startling. It’s sacrilege in a financial advice industry that has long counseled maximum feasible saving for retirement. But the authors of this new paper base their counterintuitive argument on the indisputable reality that there’s more to life than saving.

A large literature in economics specifies happiness rather than savings as the quantity to be maximized. The focus of the new paper is “total life satisfaction from material consumption,” as one of its authors, Stanford University professor John Shoven, tells Fortune. He’s a longtime authority on retirement economics, Social Security, Medicare, and pensions.

Life satisfaction is hardly a new concept in economics; it’s what economists call utility. The economic model created by Shoven and colleagues assumes income can be spent or saved, and if it’s saved it can go into a retirement account like a 401(k), with various rates of employer matching, or into a taxable investment account. The future utility of consuming today’s savings is discounted, says Shoven, for three reasons: “People display impatience; they may not be alive at distant future dates; and they may not be in good health at future dates, such as suffering from dementia.”

The model assumes a worker who was born in 1995, starts work at age 25, and retires at 67 with Social Security replacing 34% of after-tax income; it also includes required minimum distributions from the retirement account.

In a previous era, when interest rates were higher and most of the workforce consisted of high school graduates whose inflation-adjusted incomes would increase only slightly during a career, the traditional advice—starting to save for retirement at the beginning of employment—made sense under Shoven's model.

The conclusions begin to shift, however, when you add a couple of plausible assumptions based on today’s environment—namely, that a college graduate’s income at age 25 will be only 42% of their peak income at 45 or 50, and inflation-adjusted interest rates, a gauge of safe investment returns, are extremely low, around 0%. Under those conditions, a rational total-life-satisfaction maximizer won’t start saving for retirement until age 41, and that’s if their employer matches 50% of their 401(k) contributions; without matching, they won’t start saving until age 44.

They would rationally start saving earlier if the safe inflation-adjusted return were higher, 3%, but even then they wouldn’t start until age 37 with employer matching of 401(k) contributions and age 40 without.

These conclusions will strike many people as crazy—the opposite of rational. When rates of return are lower, shouldn’t workers start saving earlier, not later? Similarly, shouldn’t they start saving earlier if their employer isn’t matching their 401(k) contributions? But remember, the objective isn’t maximum savings; it’s maximum total life satisfaction. When investment returns are low, workers have little incentive to sacrifice today’s consumption in favor of barely greater consumption years from now. Employer matching enables workers to achieve a given level of saving while sacrificing less of their current consumption, so they’re willing to start earlier.

The authors acknowledge that real life is more complicated. People save for reasons in addition to retirement, such as buying a home or building a rainy-day fund; saving before having kids may be wise because saving will be more difficult afterward. Nonetheless, they say, “Our general argument still applies to retirement saving that occurs in an illiquid employer-sponsored pension account.”

Which brings us back to automatic enrollment in 401(k)s, the past decade’s biggest trend in retirement saving. Vanguard says half the plans for which it keeps records now require participants to opt out rather than opt in. That structure is almost universally lauded, but this new study suggests a significant caveat. The authors’ conclusion: “Automatic enrollment that applies to workers of all ages could be nudging young people to make—rather than avoid—a mistake.”

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