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$100 Bills on the Sidewalk: Suboptimal Investment in 401(k) Plans

  • James J. Choi

    (Yale University and NBER)

  • David Laibson

    (Harvard University and NBER)

  • Brigitte C. Madrian

    (Harvard University and NBER)

We identify employees at seven companies whose 401(k) investment choices are dominated because they are contributing less than the employer matching contribution threshold despite being vested in their match and being able to make penalty-free 401(k) withdrawals for any reason because they are older than 59½. At the average firm, 36% of match-eligible employees over age 59½ forgo arbitrage profits that average 1.6% of their annual pay, or $507. A survey educating employees about the free lunch they are forgoing raised contribution rates by a statistically insignificant 0.67% of income among those completing the survey. © 2011 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 93 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 748-763

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:93:y:2011:i:3:p:748-763
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