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Simplification and Saving

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Author Info

  • John Beshears
  • James Choi
  • David Laibson
  • Brigitte Madrian

Abstract

Many financial decisions that individuals face are complicated and daunting for those who are not financial experts. One important consequence of this complexity is that individuals procrastinate in making these decisions. In this paper, we evaluate a low-cost intervention designed to simplify the retirement saving decision. Individuals received the opportunity to enroll in their workplace savings plan at a pre-selected contribution rate and asset allocation. By collapsing a multidimensional set of options into a binary choice between the status quo and the pre-selected alternative, this intervention increases participation rates by 10 to 20 percentage points among affected employees. We find that similar mechanisms can be used to increase contribution rates among employees who are already participating.

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File URL: http://icfpub.som.yale.edu/publications/2392
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Yale School of Management in its series Yale School of Management Working Papers with number amz2392.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ysm:somwrk:amz2392

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Web page: http://icf.som.yale.edu/
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Keywords: retirement savings; asset allocation; 401(k) Accepted Paper Series;

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References

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  1. 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.
  2. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2006. "Why Does the Law of One Price Fail? An Experiment on Index Mutual Funds," NBER Working Papers 12261, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Eric P. Bettinger & Bridget Terry Long & Philip Oreopoulos & Lisa Sanbonmatsu, 2009. "The Role of Simplification and Information in College Decisions: Results from the H&R Block FAFSA Experiment," NBER Working Papers 15361, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Justine S. Hastings & Jeffrey M. Weinstein, 2008. "Information, School Choice, and Academic Achievement: Evidence from Two Experiments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1373-1414, November.
  5. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2002. "For Better or For Worse: Default Effects and 401(k) Savings Behavior," JCPR Working Papers 256, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  6. Gabriel D. Carroll & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2005. "Optimal Defaults and Active Decisions," NBER Working Papers 11074, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Cass R. Sunstein & Richard H. Thaler, 2003. "Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 48(Jun).
  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.
  9. James Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte Madrian, 2006. "Reducing the Complexity Costs of 401(k) Participation Through Quick Enrollment(TM)," NBER Working Papers 11979, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein, 2003. "Libertarian Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 175-179, May.
  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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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Beshears, John & Choi, James J. & Laibson, David & Madrian, Brigitte C., 2011. "Behavioral Economics Perspectives on Public Sector Pension Plans," Working Paper Series 11-013, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  2. Peter Kooreman & Henriëtte Prast, 2010. "What Does Behavioral Economics Mean for Policy? Challenges to Savings and Health Policies in the Netherlands," De Economist, Springer, vol. 158(2), pages 101-122, June.
  3. Kuhn, Michael A. & Kuhn, Peter J. & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2013. "The Importance of the Cognitive Environment for Intertemporal Choice," IZA Discussion Papers 7273, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Michael A. Kuhn & Peter Kuhn & Marie Claire Villeval, 2014. "Self Control and Intertemporal Choice: Evidence from Glucose and Depletion Interventions," Post-Print halshs-00954539, HAL.
  5. John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2008. "How are Preferences Revealed?," NBER Working Papers 13976, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Phil Armour & Mary Daly, 2008. "Retirement savings and decision errors: lessons from behavioral economics," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue jun6.
  7. John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2005. "The importance of default options for retirement saving outcomes: evidence from the United States," CeRP Working Papers 43, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
  8. Xiaodong Du & Hongli Feng & David A. Hennessy, 2014. "Rationality of Choices in Subsidized Crop Insurance Markets," Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications 14-wp545, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.
  9. Louis Kaplow, 2010. "Targeted Savings and Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 15656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Michael A. Kuhn & Peter Kuhn & Marie Claire Villeval, 2014. "Self Control and Intertemporal Choice: Evidence from Glucose and Depletion Interventions," CESifo Working Paper Series 4609, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. Brigitte C. Madrian, 2009. "Comment on "Who Chooses Defined Contribution Plans?"," NBER Chapters, in: Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment, pages 162-165 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Eric P. Bettinger & Bridget Terry Long & Philip Oreopoulos & Lisa Sanbonmatsu, 2009. "The Role of Simplification and Information in College Decisions: Results from the H&R Block FAFSA Experiment," NBER Working Papers 15361, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Louis Kaplow, 2011. "Targeted savings and labor supply," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 18(5), pages 507-518, October.

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