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The Impact of Employer Matching on Savings Plan Participation under Automatic Enrollment

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

Abstract

Existing research has documented the large impact that automatic enrollment has on savings plan participation. All the companies examined in these studies, however, have combined automatic enrollment with an employer match. This raises a question about how effective automatic enrollment would be without a direct financial inducement not to opt out of participation. This paper's results suggest that the match has only a modest impact on opt-out rates. We estimate that moving from a typical matching structure - a match of 50% up to 6% of pay contributed - to no match would reduce participation under automatic enrollment at six months after plan eligibility by 5 to 11 percentage points. Our analysis includes a firm that switched from a match to a non-contingent employer contribution. This firm's experience suggests that non-contingent employer contributions only weakly crowd out employee participation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13352.

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Date of creation: Aug 2007
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Publication status: published as The Impact of Employer Matching on Savings Plan Participation under Automatic Enrollment , John Beshears, James J. Choi, David Laibson, Brigitte C. Madrian. in Research Findings in the Economics of Aging , Wise. 2010
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13352

Note: AG EFG LS PE
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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.
  2. Gary V. Engelhardt & Anil Kumar, 2006. "Employer Matching and 401(k) Saving: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study," DNB Working Papers 079, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  3. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2005. "$100 Bills on the Sidewalk: Suboptimal Investment in 401(k) Plans," NBER Working Papers 11554, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2002. "Defined Contribution Pensions: Plan Rules, Participant Decisions, and the Path of Least Resistance," JCPR Working Papers 257, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  5. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2000. "The Power of Suggestion: Inertia in 401(k) Participation and Savings Behavior," NBER Working Papers 7682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2006. "The Importance of Default Options for Retirement Savings Outcomes: Evidence from the United States," NBER Working Papers 12009, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Bassett, William F. & Fleming, Michael J. & Rodrigues, Anthony P., 1998. "How Workers Use 401(k) Plans: The Participation, Contribution, and Withdrawal Decisions," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 51(n. 2), pages 263-89, June.
  8. Papke, Leslie E. & Poterba, James M., 1995. "Survey evidence on employer match rates and employee saving behavior in 401(k) plans," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 313-317, September.
  9. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2005. "$100 Bills on the Sidewalk: Suboptimal Saving in 401(k) Plans," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000649, UCLA Department of Economics.
  10. Esther Duflo & William Gale & Jeffrey Liebman & Peter Orszag & Emmanuel Saez, 2005. "Saving incentives for low- and middle-income families: Evidence from a field experiment with h&r block," Framed Field Experiments 00234, The Field Experiments Website.
  11. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2004. "For Better or for Worse: Default Effects and 401(k) Savings Behavior," NBER Chapters, in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 81-126 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Leslie E. Papke, 1992. "Participation in and Contributions to 401(k) Pension Plans: Evidence om Plan Data," NBER Working Papers 4199, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Keenan Dworak-Fisher, 2008. "Encouraging Participation in 401(k) Plans: Reconsidering the Employer Match," Working Papers 420, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  2. Alicia H. Munnell & Laura Quinby, 2010. "Why Did Some Employers Suspend Their 401(k) Match?," Issues in Brief ib2009-10-2, Center for Retirement Research, revised Feb 2010.
  3. Mauricio Soto & Barbara A. Butrica, 2009. "Will Automatic Enrollment Reduce Employer Contributions to 401(k) Plans?," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2009-33, Center for Retirement Research, revised Dec 2009.

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