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Small cues change savings choices

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

Abstract

We present evidence from randomized field experiments that 401(k) savings choices are significantly affected by one- to two-sentence anchoring, goal-setting, or savings threshold cues embedded in emails sent to employees about their 401(k) plan. Even though these cues contain little to no marginal information, cues that make high savings rates salient increased 401(k) contribution rates by up to 2.9% of income in a pay period, and cues that make low savings rates salient decreased 401(k) contribution rates by up to 1.4% of income in a pay period. Cue effects persist between two months and a year after the email.

Suggested Citation

  • Choi, James J. & Haisley, Emily & Kurkoski, Jennifer & Massey, Cade, 2017. "Small cues change savings choices," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 378-395.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:378-395
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2017.08.010
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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. repec:eee:hapoch:v1_865 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:jeborg:v:141:y:2017:i:c:p:164-176 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Alberto Chong & Dean Karlan & Jeremy Shapiro & Jonathan Zinman, 2015. "(Ineffective) Messages to Encourage Recycling: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Peru," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 29(1), pages 180-206.
    5. Goda, Gopi Shah & Manchester, Colleen Flaherty & Sojourner, Aaron J., 2014. "What will my account really be worth? Experimental evidence on how retirement income projections affect saving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 80-92.
    6. Jetter, Michael & Walker, Jay K., 2016. "Anchoring in Financial Decision-Making: Evidence from the Field," IZA Discussion Papers 10151, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2013. "Who Uses the Roth 401(k), and How Do They Use It?," NBER Chapters,in: Discoveries in the Economics of Aging, pages 411-440 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Geiger, Martin & Luhan, Wolfgang J. & Scharler, Johann, 2016. "When do fiscal consolidations lead to consumption booms? Lessons from a laboratory experiment," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 1-20.
    9. Robert L. Clark & Jennifer A. Maki & Melinda Sandler Morrill, 2014. "Can Simple Informational Nudges Increase Employee Participation in a 401(k) Plan?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 677-701, January.
    10. Hagen, Johannes & Hallberg, Daniel & Sjögren Lindquist, Gabriella, 2018. "A nudge to quit? The effect of a change in pension information on annuitization, labor supply and retirement choices among older workers," GLO Discussion Paper Series 209, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    11. Frydman, Cary & Rangel, Antonio, 2014. "Debiasing the disposition effect by reducing the saliency of information about a stock's purchase price," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 107(PB), pages 541-552.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Nudge; Cues; Anchoring; Goals; 401(k); Retirement savings;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • G02 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Behavioral Finance: Underlying Principles

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