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The Role of Information for Retirement Behavior: Evidence based on the Stepwise Introduction of the Social Security Statement

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  • Giovanni Mastrobuoni

Abstract

In 1995, the Social Security Administration started sending out the annual Social Security Statement. It contains information about the worker's estimated benefits at the ages 62, 65, and 70. I use this unique natural experiment to analyze the retirement and claiming decision making. First, I find that, despite the previous availability of information, the Statement has a significant impact on workers' knowledge about their benefits. These findings are consistent with a model where workers need to gather costly information in order to improve their retirement decision. Second, I use this exogenous variation in knowledge to analyze the optimality of workers' decisions. Several findings suggest that workers do not change their retirement behavior: i) Workers do not change their expected age of retirement after receiving the Statement; ii) monthly claiming patterns do not show any change after the introduction of the Social Security Statement; iii) workers do not become more sensitive to Social Security incentives after receiving the Statement. More research is needed to establish whether workers are already behaving optimally or they are not, but the information contained in the Statement is not sufficient to improve their retirement behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Giovanni Mastrobuoni, 2010. "The Role of Information for Retirement Behavior: Evidence based on the Stepwise Introduction of the Social Security Statement," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 139, Collegio Carlo Alberto, revised 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:cca:wpaper:139
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Giesecke, Matthias & Yang, Guanzhong, 2016. "Are financial retirement incentives more effective if pension knowledge is high?," Ruhr Economic Papers 641, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    2. Jeffrey B. Liebman & Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2015. "Would People Behave Differently If They Better Understood Social Security? Evidence from a Field Experiment," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 275-299, February.
    3. Luc Behaghel & David M. Blau, 2012. "Framing Social Security Reform: Behavioral Responses to Changes in the Full Retirement Age," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 41-67, November.
    4. Hagen, Johannes & Hallberg, Daniel & Sjögren Lindquist, Gabriella, 2018. "A nudge to quit? The effect of a change in pension information on annuitization, labor supply and retirement choices among older workers," GLO Discussion Paper Series 209, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    5. Iñigo Iturbe-Ormaetxe Kortajarene, 2011. "Visibility of social security contributions and employment," Working Papers. Serie AD 2011-16, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    6. Goda, Gopi Shah & Manchester, Colleen Flaherty & Sojourner, Aaron J., 2014. "What will my account really be worth? Experimental evidence on how retirement income projections affect saving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 80-92.
    7. Margherita Fort & Francesco Manaresi & Serena Trucchi, 2016. "Adult financial literacy and households’ financial assets: the role of bank information policies," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 31(88), pages 743-782.
    8. Tibor Hanappi, 2012. "Retirement Behaviour in Austria: Incentive Effects on Old-Age Labor Supply," NRN working papers 2012-13, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    9. Markus Knell & Esther Segalla & Andrea Weber, 2015. "Expected retirement age and pension benefits in Austria: evidence from survey data," Monetary Policy & the Economy, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue 3, pages 35-57.
    10. Giesecke, Matthias Nicolas & Yang, Guanzhong, 2016. "The Effect of Financial Incentives on Retirement Decision Making under Different Schemes of Information Provision: Experimental Evidence," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145548, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    11. Iñigo Iturbe-Ormaetxe, 2015. "Salience of social security contributions and employment," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 22(5), pages 741-759, October.
    12. repec:eee:pubeco:v:158:y:2018:i:c:p:168-179 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Blaufus, Kay & Milde, Michael, 2018. "Learning to save tax-efficiently: Tax misperceptions and the effect of informational tax nudges on retirement savings," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 225, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    14. Dolls, Mathias & Doerrenberg, Philipp & Peichl, Andreas & Stichnoth, Holger, 2016. "Do savings increase in response to salient information about retirement and expected pensions?," ZEW Discussion Papers 16-059, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    15. Fabian Duarte & Justine S. Hastings, 2012. "Fettered Consumers and Sophisticated Firms: Evidence from Mexico's Privatized Social Security Market," NBER Working Papers 18582, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Christian N. Brinch & Erik Hernæs & Zhiyang Jia, 2017. "Salience and Social Security Benefits," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 265-297.
    17. Jeffrey B. Liebman & Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2012. "The Perception of Social Security Incentives for Labor Supply and Retirement: The Median Voter Knows More Than You'd Think," Tax Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 1-42.
    18. Philip Armour & Angela Hung, 2017. "Drawing Down Retirement Wealth Interactions between Social Security Wealth and Private Retirement Savings," Working Papers WR-1165, RAND Corporation.
    19. Luc Behaghel & David M. Blau, 2010. "Framing social security reform: Behavioral responses to changes in the full retirement age," Working Papers halshs-00564950, HAL.
    20. Dolls, Mathias & Doerrenberg, Philipp & Peichl, Andreas & Stichnoth, Holger, 2018. "Do retirement savings increase in response to information about retirement and expected pensions?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 168-179.
    21. Philip Armour & Michael F. Lovenheim, 2016. "The Effect of Social Security Information on the Labor Supply and Savings of Older Americans," Working Papers wp361, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    social security statements; retirement expectations; retirement behavior; social security incentives;

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

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