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How Do 401(k)s Affect Saving? Evidence from Changes in 401(k) Eligibility

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  • Alexander M. Gelber

Abstract

This paper investigates the effect of 401(k) eligibility on saving. To address the possibility that eligibility correlates across individuals with their unobserved tastes for saving, I examine a change in eligibility: some individuals are initially ineligible for their 401(k) but become eligible when they have worked at their firm long enough. I find that eligibility raises 401(k) balances. Other financial assets and net worth respond insignificantly to eligibility, but the confidence intervals do not rule out substantial responses. In response to eligibility, IRA assets increase, consistent with a "crowd-in" hypothesis, and accumulation of cars decreases.(JEL D14, E21, J26)

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Bibliographic Info

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

Volume (Year): 3 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 103-22

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:3:y:2011:i:4:p:103-22

Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.3.4.103
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  1. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1999. "Taxation and Saving," NBER Working Papers 7061, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti, 1994. "401(k) Plans and Tax-Deferred Saving," NBER Chapters, in: Studies in the Economics of Aging, pages 105-142 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. David A. Wise & Steven F. Venti, 1993. "The Wealth of Cohorts: Retirement Saving and the Changing Assets of Older Americans," NBER Working Papers 4600, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2001. "THE POWER OF SUGGESTION: INERTIA IN 401(k) PARTICIPATION AND SAVINGS BEHAVIOR," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1149-1187, November.
  6. Patrick J. Bayer & B. Douglas Bernheim & John Karl Scholz, 1996. "The Effects of Financial Education in the Workplace: Evidence from a Survey of Employers," Working Papers 96011, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  7. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1996. "How Retirement Saving Programs Increase Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 91-112, Fall.
  8. R. Glenn Hubbard & Jonathan S. Skinner, 2009. "Assessing the Effectiveness of Saving Incentives," Books, American Enterprise Institute, number 24067, December.
  9. Orazio P. Attanasio & Thomas DeLeire, 2002. "The Effect Of Individual Retirement Accounts On Household Consumption And National Saving," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(6), pages 504-538, July.
  10. Eric M. Engen & William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1996. "The Illusory Effects of Saving Incentives on Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 113-138, Fall.
  11. Benjamin, Daniel J., 2003. "Does 401(k) eligibility increase saving?: Evidence from propensity score subclassification," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(5-6), pages 1259-1290, May.
  12. Karen E. Dynan, 1993. "How prudent are consumers?," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 135, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. Dynan, Karen E, 1993. "How Prudent Are Consumers?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 1104-13, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Alexander M. Gelber & Matthew C. Weinzierl, 2012. "Equalizing Outcomes and Equalizing Opportunities: Optimal Taxation when Children's Abilities Depend on Parents' Resources," NBER Working Papers 18332, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kast, Felipe & Meier, Stephan & Pomeranz, Dina, 2012. "Under-Savers Anonymous: Evidence on Self-Help Groups and Peer Pressure as a Savings Commitment Device," IZA Discussion Papers 6311, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Chetty, Raj & Friedman, John N. & Leth-Peterson, Soren & Nielsen, Torben Heien & Olsen, Tore, 2013. "Active vs. Passive Decisions and Crowd-Out in Retirement Savings Accounts: Evidence from Denmark," Working Paper Series rwp13-002, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  4. Alexander Gelber & Matthew Weinzierl, 2012. "Equalizing Outcomes vs. Equalizing Opportunities: Optimal Taxation when Children's Abilities Depend on Parents' Resources," Harvard Business School Working Papers 13-014, Harvard Business School, revised Mar 2014.

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