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The role of information for retirement behavior: Evidence based on the stepwise introduction of the Social Security Statement

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  • Mastrobuoni, Giovanni

Abstract

In 1995, the Social Security Administration started sending out the annual Social Security Statement. It contains information about the worker's estimated benefits at the ages 62, 65, and 70. I use this unique natural experiment to analyze the retirement and claiming decision making. First, I find that, despite the previous availability of information, the Statement has a significant impact on workers' knowledge about their benefits. These findings are consistent with a model where workers need to gather costly information in order to improve their retirement decision. Second, I use this exogenous variation in knowledge to analyze the optimality of workers' decisions. Several findings suggest that workers do not change their retirement behavior: i) Workers do not change their expected age of retirement after receiving the Statement; ii) monthly claiming patterns do not show any change after the introduction of the Social Security Statement; iii) workers do not become more sensitive to Social Security incentives after receiving the Statement. More research is needed to establish whether workers are already behaving optimally, but the information contained in the Statement is not sufficient to improve their retirement behavior.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 95 (2011)
Issue (Month): 7-8 (August)
Pages: 913-925

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:7-8:p:913-925

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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Keywords: Social Security Statements Retirement expectations Retirement behavior Social Security incentives;

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References

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  1. Ann Huff Stevens & Sewin Chan, 2005. "What You Don’t Know Can’t Help You: Pension Knowledge and Retirement Decision Making," Working Papers 518, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
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  3. Giovanni Mastrobuoni, 2006. "Labor Supply Effects of the Recent Social Security Benefit Cuts: Empirical Estimates Using Cohort Discontinuities," Working Papers 66, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
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Cited by:
  1. Luc Behaghel & David M. Blau, 2010. "Framing social security reform: Behavioral responses to changes in the full retirement age," PSE Working Papers halshs-00564950, HAL.
  2. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00564950 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Tibor Hanappi, 2012. "Retirement Behaviour in Austria: Incentive Effects on Old-Age Labor Supply," NRN working papers 2012-13, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  4. Iñigo Iturbe-Ormaetxe Kortajarene, 2011. "Visibility of social security contributions and employment," Working Papers. Serie AD 2011-16, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  5. Fabian Duarte & Justine S. Hastings, 2012. "Fettered Consumers and Sophisticated Firms: Evidence from Mexico's Privatized Social Security Market," NBER Working Papers 18582, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Jeffrey B. Liebman & Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2011. "Would People Behave Differently If They Better Understood Social Security? Evidence From a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 17287, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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