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Incorporating Employee Heterogeneity into Default Rules for Retirement Plan Selection

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  • Gopi Shah Goda
  • Colleen Flaherty Manchester

Abstract

We study the effect of incorporating heterogeneity into default rules by examining the choice between retirement plans at a firm which transitioned from a defined benefit (DB) to a defined contribution (DC) plan. The default plan for existing employees varied discontinuously depending on their age. Employing regression discontinuity techniques, we find that the default increased the probability of enrollment in the default plan by 60 percentage points. We develop a framework to solve for the optimal default rule analytically and numerically and find that considerable welfare gains are possible if defaults vary by observable characteristics.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16099.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16099

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  1. Miles S. Kimball & Claudia R. Sahm & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2009. "Risk Preferences in the PSID: Individual Imputations and Family Covariation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 363-68, May.
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  8. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2001. "THE POWER OF SUGGESTION: INERTIA IN 401(k) PARTICIPATION AND SAVINGS BEHAVIOR," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1149-1187, November.
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  10. Guido Imbens & Thomas Lemieux, 2007. "Regression Discontinuity Designs: A Guide to Practice," NBER Technical Working Papers 0337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Carroll, Gabriel D. & Choi, James J. & Laibson, David I. & Madrian, Brigitte & Metrick, Andrew, 2009. "Optimal Defaults and Active Decisions," Scholarly Articles 4686776, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  12. Raj Chetty, 2003. "A New Method of Estimating Risk Aversion," NBER Working Papers 9988, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Zvi Bodie & Alan J. Marcus & Robert C. Merton, 1988. "Defined Benefit versus Defined Contribution Pension Plans: What are the Real Trade-offs?," NBER Chapters, in: Pensions in the U.S. Economy, pages 139-162 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2011. "Behavioral Economics Perspectives on Public Sector Pension Plans," NBER Working Papers 16728, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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