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Borrowing from Yourself: The Determinants of 401(k) Loan Patterns

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  • Timothy Jun Lu

    (The Wharton School)

  • Olivia S. Mitchell

    (The Wharton School)

Abstract

This paper explores the determinants of people’s decisions to take 401(k) loans. We argue that 401(k) plans do not simply represent retirement saving, but they also provide a means of saving for precautionary purposes. We model factors that rationally would induce people to borrow from their pension plans, and we explain why people do not often use 401(k) loans to replace their more expensive credit card debt. Next we test our hypotheses using a rich dataset and show that people who are liquidity-constrained are more likely to have plan loans, while the better-off take larger loans when they do borrow. Plan characteristics such as the number of loans allowed also influence borrowing and loan size in interesting ways, while loan interest rates have only a small impact.

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File URL: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/Papers/pdf/wp221.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp221.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp221

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  1. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley, 2001. "The lifecycle model of consumption and saving," IFS Working Papers W01/15, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  2. Melvin Stephens, 2008. "The Consumption Response to Predictable Changes in Discretionary Income: Evidence from the Repayment of Vehicle Loans," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 241-252, May.
  3. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 2002. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 47-89, January.
  4. Love, David, 2006. "Buffer stock saving in retirement accounts," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1473-1492, October.
  5. 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.
  6. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2001. "For Better or For Worse: Default Effects and 401(k) Savings Behavior," NBER Working Papers 8651, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Poterba, James M. & Venti, Steven F. & Wise, David A., 1995. "Do 401(k) contributions crowd out other personal saving?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 1-32, September.
  8. Geng Li & Paul A. Smith, 2008. "Borrowing from yourself: 401(k) loans and household balance sheets," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2008-42, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Julie Agnew & Pierluigi Balduzzi & Annika Sundén, 2003. "Portfolio Choice and Trading in a Large 401(k) Plan," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 193-215, March.
  10. Ian Ayres & Barry J. Nalebuff, 2008. "Life-cycle Investing and Leverage: Buying Stock on Margin Can Reduce Retirement Risk," NBER Working Papers 14094, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. repec:crr:crrwps:2000-12 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Love, David A., 2007. "What can the life-cycle model tell us about 401(k) contributions and participation?," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(02), pages 147-185, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Thomas Bridges & Frank Stafford, 2012. "At the Corner of Main and Wall Street: Family Pension Responses to Liquidity Change and Perceived Returns," Working Papers wp282, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.

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