, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 483–504 | Cite as

Family background and the decision to provide for old age: a siblings approach

  • Bettina Lamla
Original Paper


The Riester pensions in Germany provide helpful evidence to better understand the determinants of and the barriers to the demand for old-age provision products. The paper argues that families are of key importance in the decision making process to buy such a private pension. Families do not only shape the way we make our financial decisions they can also be a source for cost-effective and reliable information. Depending on certain characteristics some individuals can process this information more easily. Results confirm that individual characteristics, in particular income and education, as well as family characteristics are correlated with Riester ownership. Adding a dynamic element to the analysis I find strong sequential correlations in Riester ownership between siblings. However, these correlations become weaker over time as the number of Riester owners in other social circles grows. Once a critical mass has been reached, positive spillovers can create a social multiplier leading to a higher coverage with private pensions in the future.


Old age provision Family background Information sharing Transaction costs Riester pension 

JEL Classification

D83 D91 



I thank Michela Coppola who has given me advice throughout the project. Moreover, I am grateful to Axel Börsch-Supan, Joachim Winter and Michael Ziegelmeyer for their helpful comments. I have benefited from comments coming from participants at the MEA seminar (Munich), the Annual Meeting of the Austrian Economic Association (Vienna),the German Socio-Economic Panel User Conference (Berlin) as well as the CeRP conference (Turin). Special thanks go to the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions to improve the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Munich Center for the Economics of AgingMax-Planck-Institute for Social Law and Social PolicyMunichGermany

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