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The Miracle of Compound Interest: Does our Intuition Fail?

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Author Info

  • Binswanger, J.
  • Carman, K.G.

    (Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research)

Abstract

When it comes to estimating the benefits of long-term savings, many people rely on their intuition. Focusing on the domain of retirement savings, we use a randomized experiment to explore people’s intuition about how money accumulates over time. We ask half of our sample to estimate future consumption given savings (the forward perspective). The other half of the sample is asked to estimate savings given future consumption (the backward perspective). From an economic point of view, both subsamples are asked identical questions. However, we discover a large “direction bias”: the perceived benefits of long-term savings are substantially higher when individuals adopt a backward perspective. Our findings have important impli- cations for economic modeling, in general, and for structuring advice and financial literacy programs, in particular.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research in its series Discussion Paper with number 2010-137.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:dgr:kubcen:2010137

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Web page: http://center.uvt.nl

Related research

Keywords: Behavioral economics; financial intuition; financial literacy; com- pound interest; retirement saving;

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References

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  1. Annamaria Lusardi, 2008. "Financial Literacy: An Essential Tool for Informed Consumer Choice?," NBER Working Papers 14084, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jere R. Behrman & Olivia S. Mitchell & Cindy Soo & David Bravo, 2010. "Financial Literacy, Schooling, and Wealth Accumulation," NBER Working Papers 16452, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Maarten van Rooij & Annamaria Lusardi & Rob Alessie, 2007. "Financial Literacy and Stock Market Participation," CeRP Working Papers 66, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
  4. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2002. "Wealth Accumulation and the Propensity to Plan," NBER Working Papers 8920, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Binswanger, J. & Carman, K.G., 2011. "The Role of Desicion Making Processes in the Correlation between Wealth and Health," Discussion Paper 2011-005, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  6. Binswanger, J. & Carman, K.G., 2009. "How Real People Make Long-Term Decisions: The Case of Retirement Preparation," Discussion Paper 2009-73, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  7. Donkers, A.C.D. & Melenberg, B. & Soest, A.H.O. van, 1999. "Estimating Risk Attitudes Using Lotteries; A Large Sample Approach," Discussion Paper 1999-12, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  8. Victor Stango & Jonathan Zinman, 2009. "Exponential Growth Bias and Household Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(6), pages 2807-2849, December.
  9. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell & Vilsa Curto, 2009. "Financial Literacy among the Young: Evidence and Implications for Consumer Policy," CeRP Working Papers 91, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
  10. Sendhil Mullainathan & Markus Noeth & Antoinette Schoar, 2012. "The Market for Financial Advice: An Audit Study," NBER Working Papers 17929, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Annamaria Lusardi, 2008. "Household Saving Behavior: The Role of Financial Literacy, Information, and Financial Education Programs," NBER Working Papers 13824, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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