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Reducing the Complexity Costs of 401(k) Participation Through Quick Enrollment

In: Developments in the Economics of Aging

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  • James J. Choi
  • David Laibson
  • Brigitte C. Madrian

Abstract

The complexity of the retirement savings decision may overwhelm employees, encouraging procrastination and reducing 401(k) enrollment rates. We study a low-cost manipulation designed to simplify the 401(k) enrollment process. Employees are given the option to make a Quick Enrollment [TM] election to enroll in their 401(k) plan at a pre-selected contribution rate and asset allocation. By decoupling the participation decision from the savings rate and asset allocation decisions, the Quick Enrollment [TM] mechanism simplifies the savings plan decision process. We find that at one company, Quick Enrollment[TM] tripled 401(k)participation rates among new employees three months after hire. When Quick Enrollment [TM] was offered to previously hired non-participating employees at two firms, participation increased by 10 to 20 percentage points among those employees affected.

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This chapter was published in:

  • David A. Wise, 2009. "Developments in the Economics of Aging," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number wise09-1, May.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11310.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11310

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    1. Gabriel D. Carroll & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2009. "Optimal Defaults and Active Decisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1639-1674, November.
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    Cited by:
    1. Bolton, Gary E. & Ockenfels, Axel, 2012. "Behavioral economic engineering," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 665-676.
    2. Brigitte C. Madrian, 2009. "Comment on "Who Chooses Defined Contribution Plans?"," NBER Chapters, in: Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment, pages 162-165 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Laibson, David I. & Madrian, Brigitte & Beshears, John & Choi, James J., 2011. "Behavioral Economics Perspectives on Public Sector Pension Plans," Scholarly Articles 4723207, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
    4. Giuseppe Cappelletti & Giovanni Guazzarotti & Pietro Tommasino, 2010. "The effect of age on portfolio choices: evidence form an Italian pension fund," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 768, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.

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