The paper describes a new type of deferred life annuity which has recently been introduced in the United States and which has been used, so far, principally in connection with the retirement plans of colleges and other educational institutions and, to some extent, in self-administered pension plans of commercial corporations. These annuities do not guarantee specific or equal money payments. The fund, which is divided into an “accumulation fund” and an “annuity fund”, is invested entirely in ordinary shares (“common stocks”). Premiums (contributions) and income from the fund are applied to purchase “accumulation units”, the value of a unit being determined monthly in accordance with stock market prices. At the retirement date of any individual the then current value of the units he owns is used to purchase a life annuity of a fixed number of “annuity units” in accordance with the then current value of a unit in the annuity fund. The successive cash payments to the annuitant are the current values of the fixed number of annuity units which he holds.
The purpose of this plan is to provide a variable cash income which will, to some extent, reflect the changes in the cost of living, i.e., to provide a more constant “real income” both in times of inflation and deflation.
The paper includes : (1) a short account of the origin and business of the company which has introduced this plan, and which is of a special character, with business limited to educational institutions and their employees ; (2) consideration of the circumstances which led to the adoption of the plan ; (3) a general explanation of the basis of the plan and of its mode of operation ; (4) some illustrations of the results which would have been obtained if this plan had been in operation in the past compared to the conventional type of deferred annuity with fixed payments, including consideration of the relative amounts of cash income realised, the relation of cash income to purchasing power and the extent of fluctuation in income under the “variable annuity” ; (5) reference to the possible use of such a plan by life insurance companies generally and of other means by which variable annuities of this type are being or may be provided.