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Small Cues Change Savings Choices

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Author Info

  • James J. Choi
  • Emily Haisley
  • Jennifer Kurkoski
  • Cade Massey

Abstract

In randomized field experiments, we embedded one- to two-sentence anchoring, goal-setting, or savings threshold cues in emails to employees about their 401(k) savings plan. We find that anchors increase or decrease 401(k) contribution rates by up to 1.9% of income. A high savings goal example raises contribution rates by up to 2.2% of income. Highlighting a higher savings threshold in the match incentive structure raises contributions by up to 1.5% of income relative to highlighting the lower threshold. Highlighting the maximum possible contribution rate raises contribution rates by up to 2.9% of income among low savers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17843.

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Date of creation: Feb 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17843

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  1. Alan Beggs & Kathryn Graddy, 2009. "Anchoring Effects: Evidence from Art Auctions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 1027-39, June.
  2. Karlan, Dean S. & McConnell, Margaret & Mullainathan, Sendhil & Zinman, Jonathan, 2010. "Getting to the Top of Mind: How Reminders Increase Saving," CEPR Discussion Papers 7907, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Green, Donald & Jacowitz, Karen E. & Kahneman, Daniel & McFadden, Daniel, 1998. "Referendum contingent valuation, anchoring, and willingness to pay for public goods," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 85-116, June.
  4. Beshears, John & Choi, James J. & Laibson, David & Madrian, Brigitte C., 2013. "Simplification and saving," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 130-145.
  5. Wise, David A. (ed.), 2009. "Developments in the Economics of Aging," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 0, number 9780226903354.
  6. 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.
  7. Mitchell, Olivia S. & Utkus, Stephen P. (ed.), 2004. "Pension Design and Structure: New Lessons from Behavioral Finance," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199273393, Octomber.
  8. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  9. Ximena Cadena & Antoinette Schoar, 2011. "Remembering to Pay? Reminders vs. Financial Incentives for Loan Payments," NBER Working Papers 17020, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Wise, David A. (ed.), 2009. "The Economics of Aging," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 0, number 9780226903224.
  11. Richard Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save more tomorrow: Using behavioral economics to increase employee saving," Natural Field Experiments 00337, The Field Experiments Website.
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Cited by:
  1. Gopi Shah Goda & Colleen Flaherty Manchester & Aaron Sojourner, 2012. "What Will My Account Really Be Worth? An Experiment on Exponential Growth Bias and Retirement Saving," NBER Working Papers 17927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Robert L. Clark & Jennifer A. Maki & Melinda Sandler Morrill, 2013. "Can Simple Informational Nudges Increase Employee Participation in a 401(k) Plan?," NBER Working Papers 19591, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Chong, Alberto & Karlan, Dean & Shapiro, Jeremy & Zinman, Jonathan, 2013. "(Ineffective) messages to encourage recycling : evidence from a randomized evaluation in Peru," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6548, The World Bank.
  4. John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2013. "Who Uses the Roth 401(k), and How Do They Use It?," NBER Working Papers 19193, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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