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Overcoming Inertia: Do Automated Saving and Investing Strategies Work?


  • Barbara O’Neill



Many workers do not take advantage of savings opportunities provided to them at their workplace, nor do they always make wise investment decisions regarding employer plans. Various automated strategies have been implemented by employers with the objective of increasing retirement plan participation and, hence, the financial security of workers. Automatic strategies work by proactively arranging some type of action (e.g., plan enrollment) to occur unless people specifically opt out. This article examines and synthesizes previous empirical research about five automatic savings and investing strategies: (a) automatic retirement savings plan enrollment, (b) automatic contribution increases, (c) automatic portfolio rebalancing, (d) automatic rollovers, and (e) automatic investment plans. Advantages and disadvantages of each strategy are discussed, along with implications for financial educators. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Suggested Citation

  • Barbara O’Neill, 2007. "Overcoming Inertia: Do Automated Saving and Investing Strategies Work?," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 28(2), pages 321-335, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jfamec:v:28:y:2007:i:2:p:321-335 DOI: 10.1007/s10834-007-9063-x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2005. "Are Empowerment and Education Enough? Underdiversification in 401(k) Plans," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(2), pages 151-214.
    2. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2001. "The Power of Suggestion: Inertia in 401(k) Participation and Savings Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1149-1187.
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    Cited by:

    1. Aydogan Ulker, 2009. "Wealth Holdings and Portfolio Allocation of the Elderly: The Role of Marital History," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 30(1), pages 90-108, March.
    2. Mitchell Marsden & Cathleen Zick & Robert Mayer, 2011. "The Value of Seeking Financial Advice," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 32(4), pages 625-643, December.
    3. Chang-Keun Han & Michael Sherraden, 2009. "Attitudes and Saving in Individual Development Accounts: Latent Class Analysis," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 226-236, September.
    4. Kaustia, Markku & Rantapuska, Elias, 2012. "Rational and behavioral motives to trade: Evidence from reinvestment of dividends and tender offer proceeds," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 2366-2378.
    5. 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.
    6. Cynthia Sanders & Shirley Porterfield, 2010. "The Ownership Society and Women: Exploring Female Householders’ Ability to Accumulate Assets," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 90-106, March.
    7. David Okech, 2011. "Enrollment Decisions in a Child Development Accounts Program for Low-Income Families," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 400-410, September.


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