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Do "Catch-Up Limits" Raise Retirement Saving? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design

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  • Adam M. Lavecchia

Abstract

This paper studies the effect of raising contribution limits on retirement saving by exploiting the "catch-up limit" provision, a rule which allows those over the age of 50 to make higher IRA and 401(k) contributions than those under 50. Using an age-related regression discontinuity design, I find that eligibility for catch-up limits leads to a large increase in total tax-deferred contributions for those without access to a 401(k) plan. This is driven by a 25 percent increase in average IRA contributions and a 21 percent increase in the likelihood of making an IRA contribution. I also find no significant effects on overall 401(k) contributions. The findings suggest that, contrary to the neoclassical life-cycle model, the response to eligibility for catch-up limits was not limited to constrained savers.

Suggested Citation

  • Adam M. Lavecchia, 2018. "Do "Catch-Up Limits" Raise Retirement Saving? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 71(1), pages 121-154, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:ntj:journl:v:71:y:2018:i:1:p:121-154
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Emmanuel Saez, 2009. "Details Matter: The Impact of Presentation and Information on the Take-Up of Financial Incentives for Retirement Saving," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 204-228, February.
    2. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Søren Leth-Petersen & Torben Heien Nielsen & Tore Olsen, 2014. "Active vs. Passive Decisions and Crowd-Out in Retirement Savings Accounts: Evidence from Denmark," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(3), pages 1141-1219.
    3. Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2009. "Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist's Companion," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 8769.
    4. Orazio P. Attanasio & Thomas DeLeire, 2002. "The Effect Of Individual Retirement Accounts On Household Consumption And National Saving," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(6), pages 504-538, July.
    5. Engelhardt, Gary V. & Kumar, Anil, 2007. "Employer matching and 401(k) saving: Evidence from the health and retirement study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(10), pages 1920-1943, November.
    6. Umit G. Gurun & Gregor Matvos & Amit Seru, 2016. "Advertising Expensive Mortgages," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 71(5), pages 2371-2416, October.
    7. Matthew S. Rutledge & April Yanyuan Wu & Francis M. Vitagliano, 2014. "Do Tax Incentives Increase 401(k) Retirement Saving? Evidence from the Adoption of Catch-Up Contributions," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2014-17, Center for Retirement Research.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

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