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What You Don't Know Can't Help You: Pension Knowledge and Retirement Decision-Making

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Author Info

  • Sewin Chan

    (Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University)

  • Ann Huff Stevens

    (Department of Economics, University of California, Davis)

Abstract

This paper provides an answer to an important empirical puzzle in the retirement literature: while most people know little about their own pension plans, retirement behavior is strongly affected by pension incentives. We combine administrative and self-reported pension data to measure the retirement response to actual and perceived financial incentives and document an important role for self-reported pension data in determining retirement behavior. Well-informed individuals are far more responsive to pension incentives than the average individual. Ill-informed individuals seem to respond systematically to their own misperceptions of pension incentives. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/rest.90.2.253
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 90 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 253-266

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:90:y:2008:i:2:p:253-266

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Web page: http://mitpress.mit.edu/journals/

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  1. B. Douglas Bernheim & Daniel M. Garrett, 1996. "The Determinants and Consequences of Financial Education in the Workplace: Evidence from a Survey of Households," Working Papers 96007, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  2. Sewin Chan & Ann Huff Stevens, 2002. "How Does Job Loss Affect the Timing of Retirement?," NBER Working Papers 8780, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Samwick, Andrew A., 1998. "New evidence on pensions, social security, and the timing of retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 207-236, November.
  4. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2001. "Retirement and Wealth," Working Papers wp002, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  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. Mitchell, Olivia S, 1988. "Worker Knowledge of Pension Provisions," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(1), pages 21-39, January.
  7. Duflo, Esther & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "Participation and investment decisions in a retirement plan: the influence of colleagues' choices," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 121-148, July.
  8. Stock, James H & Wise, David A, 1990. "Pensions, the Option Value of Work, and Retirement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(5), pages 1151-80, September.
  9. Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2002. "The Role of Information and Social Interactions in Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," NBER Working Papers 8885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. James J. Heckman, 1976. "The Common Structure of Statistical Models of Truncation, Sample Selection and Limited Dependent Variables and a Simple Estimator for Such Models," NBER Chapters, in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 5, number 4, pages 475-492 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Chan, Sewin & Stevens, Ann Huff, 2004. "Do changes in pension incentives affect retirement? A longitudinal study of subjective retirement expectations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1307-1333, July.
  12. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
  13. Robin L. Lumsdaine & James H. Stock & David A. Wise, 1990. "Three Models of Retirement: Computational Complexity Versus Predictive Validity," NBER Working Papers 3558, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2001. "Imperfect Knowledge, Retirement and Saving," Working Papers wp012, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  15. Esther Dufluo & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "The role of information and social interactions in retirement plan decisions: Evidence from a randomized experiment," Framed Field Experiments 00141, The Field Experiments Website.
  16. Courtney Coile & Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Social Security and Retirement," NBER Working Papers 7830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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