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Details Matter: The Impact of Presentation and Information on the Take-Up of Financial Incentives for Retirement Saving

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  • Emmanuel Saez

Abstract

We examine the effects of presentation and information on the take-up of financial subsidies for retirement saving in a large randomized experiment carried out with H&R Block. The subsidies raise take-up and contributions with larger effects when the subsidy is characterized as a matching contribution rather than an equivalent-value tax credit (or cash back), and when filers are informed before the tax season about the subsidy. The results imply that both pure incentives and the presentation of those incentives affect consumer choices. (JEL D14, H24, H31, J26)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/pol.1.1.204
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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aej-policy/data/2007-0046_data.zip
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 1 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 204-28

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:1:y:2009:i:1:p:204-28

Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.1.1.204
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References

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  1. Engelhardt, Gary V. & Kumar, Anil, 2007. "Employer matching and 401(k) saving: Evidence from the health and retirement study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(10), pages 1920-1943, November.
  2. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  3. Douglas D. Davis & Edward L. Millner, 2005. "Rebates, Matches, and Consumer Behavior," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 72(2), pages 410–421, October.
  4. Gur Huberman & Sheena Iyengar & Wei Jiang, 2007. "Defined Contribution Pension Plans: Determinants of Participation and Contributions Rates," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 1-32, February.
  5. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2001. "Defined Contribution Pensions: Plan Rules, Participant Decisions, and the Path of Least Resistance," NBER Working Papers 8655, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2000. "Participation and Investment Decisions in a Retirement Plan: The Influence of Colleagues' Choices," NBER Working Papers 7735, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Marianne Bertrand & Dean Karlan & Sendhil Mullainathan & Eldar Shafir & Jonathan Zinman, 2006. "What's psychology worth? A field experiment in the consumer credit market," Natural Field Experiments 00217, The Field Experiments Website.
  8. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2004. "Plan Design and 401(k) Savings Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 10486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2003. "Rebate versus matching: does how we subsidize charitable contributions matter?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(3-4), pages 681-701, March.
  10. Catherine Eckel & Philip Grossman, 2005. "Subsidizing charitable contributions: A field test comparing matching and rebate subsidies," Framed Field Experiments 00145, The Field Experiments Website.
  11. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan & Dean Karlan & Eldar Shafir & Jonathan Zinman, 2009. "What's Advertising Content Worth? Evidence from a Consumer Credit Marketing Field Experiment," Working Papers 968, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  12. Marianne Bertrand & Dean Karlin & Sendhil Mullainathan & Eldar Shafir & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "What's Psychology Worth? A Field Experiment in the Consumer Credit Market," NBER Working Papers 11892, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Lawrence Katz & B. Jeffrey Liebman, 2000. "Moving to Opportunity in Boston: Early Results of a Randomized Mobility Experiment," Working Papers 820, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  14. Esther Duflo & William Gale & Jeffrey Liebman & Peter Orszag & Emmanuel Saez, 2005. "Saving incentives for low- and middle-income families: Evidence from a field experiment with h&r block," Framed Field Experiments 00234, The Field Experiments Website.
  15. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2006. "Do Donors Care about Subsidy Type? An Experimental Study," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-10, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  16. Douglas Davis & Edward Millner & Robert Reilly, 2005. "Subsidy Schemes and Charitable Contributions: A Closer Look," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 85-106, June.
  17. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2006. "Subsidizing Charitable Giving with Rebates or Matching: Further Laboratory Evidence," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 794–807, April.
  18. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2002. "Defined Contribution Pensions: Plan Rules, Participant Choices, and the Path of Least Resistance," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 16, pages 67-114 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Mills, Gregory & Gale, William G. & Patterson, Rhiannon & Engelhardt, Gary V. & Eriksen, Michael D. & Apostolov, Emil, 2008. "Effects of individual development accounts on asset purchases and saving behavior: Evidence from a controlled experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1509-1530, June.
  2. Burman, L.E. & Coe, N.B. & Dworsky, M. & Gale, W.G., 2008. "Effects of Public Policies on the Disposition of Pre-retirement Lump-Sum Distributions: Rational and Behavioral Influences," Discussion Paper 2008-94, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  3. Renuka Sane & Susan Thomas, 2013. "In search of inclusion: informal sector participation in a voluntary, defined contribution pension system," Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai Working Papers 2013-022, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India.
  4. Alan J. Auerbach & William G. Gale, 2009. "Activist Fiscal Policy to Stabilize Economic Activity," NBER Working Papers 15407, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Avraham Ebenstein & Kevin Stange, 2010. "Does inconvenience explain low take-up? Evidence from unemployment insurance," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(1), pages 111-136.
  6. Wei-Yin Hu & Olivia S. Mitchell & Cynthia Pagliaro & Stephen P. Utkus, 2013. "Evaluating Web-based Savings Interventions: A Preliminary Assessment," Working Papers wp299, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  7. Binswanger, Johannes & Carman, Katherine Grace, 2012. "How real people make long-term decisions: The case of retirement preparation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 39-60.
  8. Andras Simonovits, 2009. "A Simple Model of Tax-Favored Retirement Accounts," IEHAS Discussion Papers 0915, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
  9. Geng Li & Paul A. Smith, 2009. "New evidence on 401(k) borrowing and household balance sheets," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2009-19, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. Jekaterina Dmitrijeva & Florent Fremigacci & Yannick L'Horty, 2013. "Le paradoxe des nouvelles politiques d'insertion," Working Papers halshs-00856272, HAL.

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