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How Financial Literacy and Impatience Shape Retirement Wealth and Investment Behaviors

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  • Justine S. Hastings
  • Olivia S. Mitchell

Abstract

Two competing explanations for why consumers have trouble with financial decisions are gaining momentum. One is that people are financially illiterate since they lack understanding of simple economic concepts and cannot carry out computations such as computing compound interest, which could cause them to make suboptimal financial decisions. A second is that impatience or present-bias might explain suboptimal financial decisions. That is, some people persistently choose immediate gratification instead of taking advantage of larger long-term payoffs. We use experimental evidence from Chile to explore how these factors appear related to poor financial decisions. Our results show that our measure of impatience is a strong predictor of wealth and investment in health. Financial literacy is also correlated with wealth though it appears to be a weaker predictor of sensitivity to framing in investment decisions. Policymakers interested in enhancing retirement wellbeing would do well to consider the importance of these factors.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16740.

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Date of creation: Jan 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16740

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References

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  1. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2006. "Baby Boomer Retirement Security: The Roles of Planning, Financial Literacy, and Housing Wealth," CeRP Working Papers 54, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
  2. 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.
  3. Nava Ashraf & Dean Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2006. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence from a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 635-672, May.
  4. James Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte Madrian, 2008. "Why Does the Law of One Price Fail? An Experiment on Index Mutual Funds," Yale School of Management Working Papers amz2369, Yale School of Management, revised 05 May 2008.
  5. Justine S. Hastings & Lydia Tejeda-Ashton, 2008. "Financial Literacy, Information, and Demand Elasticity: Survey and Experimental Evidence from Mexico," NBER Working Papers 14538, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Lusardi, Annamaria & Mitchell, Olivia S., 2010. "How ordinary consumers make complex economic decisions: Financial literacy and retirement readiness," CFS Working Paper Series 2010/11, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  7. 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.
  8. Fabian Duarte & Justine S. Hastings, 2012. "Fettered Consumers and Sophisticated Firms: Evidence from Mexico's Privatized Social Security Market," NBER Working Papers 18582, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. David Bravo Urrutia & Olivia S. Mitchell & Petra Todd, 2007. "Learning from the Chilean Experience: The Determinants of Pension Switching," Working Papers wp266, University of Chile, Department of Economics.
  11. Alberto Arenas de Mesa & David Bravo & Jere R. Behrman & Olivia S. Mitchell & Petra E. Todd, 2006. "The Chilean Pension Reform Turns 25: Lessons From the Social Protection Survey," NBER Working Papers 12401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Klapper, Leora & Lusardi, Annamaria & Panos, Georgios A., 2012. "Financial literacy and the financial crisis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5980, The World Bank.
  2. Christopher B. Bumcrot & Judy Lin & Annamaria Lusardi, 2011. "The Geography of Financial Literacy," Working Papers 893, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  3. Justine S. Hastings & Ali Hortaçsu & Chad Syverson, 2013. "Advertising and Competition in Privatized Social Security: The Case of Mexico," NBER Working Papers 18881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Klapper, Leora & Lusardi, Annamaria & Panos, Georgios A., 2013. "Financial literacy and its consequences: Evidence from Russia during the financial crisis," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(10), pages 3904-3923.
  5. Annamaria Lusardi, 2012. "Numeracy, financial literacy, and financial decision-making," NBER Working Papers 17821, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Luigi Guiso & Eliana Viviano, 2013. "How Much Can Financial Literacy Help?," EIEF Working Papers Series 1325, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Sep 2013.
  7. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2011. "Financial Literacy around the World: An Overview," NBER Working Papers 17107, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2014. "The Economic Importance of Financial Literacy: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 52(1), pages 5-44, March.
  9. Steven Levitt & John List & Susanne Neckermann & Sally Sadoff, 2013. "The behavioralist goes to school: Leveraging behavioral economics to improve educational performance," Framed Field Experiments 00379, The Field Experiments Website.
  10. Wei-Yin Hu & Olivia S. Mitchell & Cynthia Pagliaro & Stephen P. Utkus, 2013. "Evaluating Web-based Savings Interventions: A Preliminary Assessment," Working Papers wp299, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  11. Lusardi, Annamaria & Mitchell, Olivia S. & Curto, Vilsa, 2012. "Financial sophistication in the older population," CFS Working Paper Series 2012/08, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  12. Jere R. Behrman & Olivia S. Mitchell & Cindy K. Soo & David Bravo, 2012. "How Financial Literacy Affects Household Wealth Accumulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(3), pages 300-304, May.

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