One of the best real-time measures of the population’s interest in a subject can be gleaned through Google search data. Since the start of the year, searches for the topic are up by 50% and continue to climb with rates. In fact, there is a 0.9 correlation between search volume and longer-term rates.
According to Standard Life, interest in the topic really accelerated once rates exceeded 4%. Currently, many annuities are offering returns in the 7% to 8% range which is leading to strong demand from retirees or those close to retirement who are looking for income.
Recent months have seen rates continue inching higher, while inflation expectations have moderated. Higher real rates are also adding to the appeal of annuities given concerns about the economic outlook and costs.
Two more contributing factors behind annuity demand are pent-up demand and demographics. For more than a decade, rates were so low that annuities simply didn’t deliver sufficient returns for investors or retirees. Instead, monetary policy was designed to push them higher up the risk curve in order to generate yield.
Demographics also can’t be ignored. Next year, 12,000 Americans will be reaching retirement age every day. And by 2031, 70 million Americans will be above retirement age. The population is even older in Europe and Japan and will likely be interested in boosting their income during retirement.
Finsum: Google search data shows that interest in annuities has surged since the beginning of the year. It’s not a coincidence that this happened as long-term rates were breaking out to multi decade highs.