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How real people make long-term decisions: The case of retirement preparation

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  • Binswanger, Johannes
  • Carman, Katherine Grace

Abstract

Large variations in retirement wealth are common, with some households accumulating hundreds of thousands of dollars and others accumulating next to nothing. We examine to what extent formal planning or simple rules of thumb contribute to these differences in wealth accumulation. In particular, we investigate whether those who follow simple rules of thumb or those who come up with more complete plans accumulate more wealth than those who take an unsystematic approach. We test this empirically using a specifically designed survey about retirement preparation. We find that people who rely on a rule of thumb behave like literal planners. However, people without any systematic approach save substantially less. Our results, taken together with evidence from psychology, suggest that financial planning advice based on simple rules of thumb may be helpful for those who currently take no systematic approach.

Suggested Citation

  • Binswanger, Johannes & Carman, Katherine Grace, 2012. "How real people make long-term decisions: The case of retirement preparation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 39-60.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:81:y:2012:i:1:p:39-60
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2011.08.010
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bannier, Christina E. & Schwarz, Milena, 2017. "Skilled but unaware of it: Occurrence and potential long-term effects of females' financial underconfidence," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168188, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Binswanger, J. & Carman, K.G., 2010. "The Miracle of Compound Interest : Does our Intuition Fail?," Discussion Paper 2010-137, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    3. Binswanger, J. & Carman, K.G., 2011. "The Role of Desicion Making Processes in the Correlation between Wealth and Health," Discussion Paper 2011-005, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    4. Alassane Diaw, 2017. "Retirement Preparedness in Saudi Arabia," International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, Econjournals, vol. 7(1), pages 78-86.
    5. repec:eee:jbrese:v:79:y:2017:i:c:p:228-237 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Robert Clark & Robert Hammond & Emma Hanson & Melinda Morrill, 2014. "Older public sector workers’ retirement planning, participation, and preparedness," Discussion Papers 14-008, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    7. Robert L. Clark & Robert G. Hammond & Christelle Khalaf & Melinda Sandler Morrill, 2017. "Planning for Retirement? The Importance of Time Preferences," NBER Working Papers 23501, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Carman, Katherine Grace & Zamarro, Gema, 0. "Does Financial Literacy Contribute To Food Security?," International Journal of Food and Agricultural Economics (IJFAEC), Alanya Alaaddin Keykubat University, Department of Economics and Finance, vol. 4.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Decision process; Planning; Rule of thumb; Retirement saving; Household finance;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions

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