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Can Simple Informational Nudges Increase Employee Participation in a 401(k) Plan?

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Listed:
  • Robert L. Clark

    () (Department of Economics, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8110, USA;)

  • Jennifer A. Maki

    () (Center for Healthcare Economics and Policy, FTI Consulting, 1101 K Street, NW, Suite B100, Washington DC 20005, USA;)

  • Melinda Sandler Morrill

    () (Department of Economics, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8110, USA; corresponding author.)

Abstract

We report results from a field experiment in which a randomized subset of newly hired workers at a large financial institution received a flyer containing information about the employer's 401(k) plan and the value of contributions compounding over a career. Younger workers who received the flyer were significantly more likely to begin contributing to the plan relative to their peers in the control group. Many workers do not participate in their employers' supplemental retirement savings programs, even though these programs offer substantial tax advantages and immediate returns due to matching contributions. From a survey of new hires, we find that many workers choose not to contribute to the plan because they have other financial priorities. However, some nonparticipants lack the financial literacy to appreciate the benefit. These findings indicate that simple informational interventions can nudge workers to participate in retirement saving plans and enhance individual well-being and retirement income security.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:80:3:y:2014:p:677-701
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.4284/0038-4038-2012.199
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Tim Kaiser & Lukas Menkhoff, 2017. "Does Financial Education Impact Financial Literacy and Financial Behavior, and If So, When?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 31(3), pages 611-630.
    2. Michalek, Gabriela & Meran, Georg & Schwarze, Reimund & Yildiz, Özgür, 2016. "Nudging as a new "soft" policy tool: An assessment of the definitional scope of nudges, practical implementation possibilities and their effectiveness," Economics Discussion Papers 2016-18, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    3. Robert Clark & Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2017. "Employee Financial Literacy And Retirement Plan Behavior: A Case Study," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(1), pages 248-259, January.
    4. Robert L. Clark & Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2014. "Financial Knowledge and 401(k) Investment Performance," NBER Working Papers 20137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Xi Chen & Lipeng Hu & Jody L. Sindelar, 2017. "Leaving Money on the Table? Suboptimal Enrollment in the New Social Pension Program in China," NBER Working Papers 24065, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Gabriela Michalek & Georg Meran & Reimund Schwarze & Özgür Yildiz, 2015. "Nudging as a new 'soft' tool in environmental policy. An analysis based on insights from cognitive and social psychology," Discussion Paper Series RECAP15 21, RECAP15, European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder).
    7. Robert L. Clark & Robert G. Hammond & Melinda Sandler Morrill & Christelle Khalaf, 2017. "Nudging Retirement Savings: A Field Experiment on Supplemental Plans," NBER Working Papers 23679, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

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