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The perception of tax concessions in retirement savings decisions


  • Silvia Jordan
  • Corinna Treisch


Purpose - Research to date has reported ambiguous results on the influence of tax concessions on retirement savings decisions. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the influence of tax concessions on private retirement investment decisions by analyzing actual retirement decision processes and the rationales behind these decisions in-depth. Design/methodology/approach - Qualitative semi-structured interviews on actual retirement savings decisions were conducted with private investors (17) and their respective bank advisors (5). Decision-making rationales are analysed by means of semantic and causal coding of verbal data as well as by highlighting the complexities of decision processes represented in individual investment narratives. Findings - Results indicate that taxes do not matter much, neither during the decision to join a private retirement plan, nor when choosing a specific investment product. Financial planning for retirement consists of saving disposable income instead of the required savings premium and choosing a secure type of investment which yields more than a savings account. Savers do not base their decisions on calculating and comparing rates of return or tax benefits. Instead, comparatively unqualified relatives as well as bank advisors and the desire for trust and security are of major relevance. Research limitations/implications - The generalization of results is limited in so far as they refer to a relatively small interview sample. The study shall thus prompt further research that takes the decision-making context and the interrelation between several context factors systematically into account. Originality/value - The study is of value in that it highlights the difficulties private investors' experience when making actual – rather than hypothetical – retirement savings decisions and the rationales behind seemingly “imperfect” decisions. It shows that retirement savings decisions are heavily linked with the social decision-making context. These results are closely linked to the recent debate on “responsibilization”, critical perspectives on the tendency of states to hold individuals increasingly accountable for aspects of market governance and social security.

Suggested Citation

  • Silvia Jordan & Corinna Treisch, 2010. "The perception of tax concessions in retirement savings decisions," Qualitative Research in Financial Markets, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 2(3), pages 157-184, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:qrfmpp:v:2:y:2010:i:3:p:157-184

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "The Role of Information and Social Interactions in Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 815-842.
    2. Power, Laura & Rider, Mark, 2002. "The effect of tax-based savings incentives on the self-employed," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 33-52, July.
    3. Brad M. Barber & Terrance Odean, 2008. "All That Glitters: The Effect of Attention and News on the Buying Behavior of Individual and Institutional Investors," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 21(2), pages 785-818, April.
    4. Hines, Ruth D., 1988. "Financial accounting: In communicating reality, we construct reality," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 251-261, April.
    5. Gur Huberman & Sheena Iyengar & Wei Jiang, 2007. "Defined Contribution Pension Plans: Determinants of Participation and Contributions Rates," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 31(1), pages 1-32, February.
    6. Jappelli, Tullio & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2003. "Tax incentives and the demand for life insurance: evidence from Italy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1779-1799, August.
    7. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. "Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
    8. Therese Jefferson, 2007. "Discussing Retirement: Insights from a Qualitative Research Project," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 10(2), pages 129-145, June.
    9. Eric M. Engen & William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1996. "The Illusory Effects of Saving Incentives on Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 113-138, Fall.
    10. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 2002. "How Much Is Investor Autonomy Worth?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(4), pages 1593-1616, August.
    11. Hrung, Warren B., 2001. "Information and IRA participation: the influence of tax preparers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 467-484, June.
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    Retirement; Savings; Taxation; Pensions; Decision making;


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