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Getting to the Top of Mind: How Reminders Increase Saving

  • Dean Karlan
  • Margaret McConnell
  • Sendhil Mullainathan
  • Jonathan Zinman

We develop and test a simple model of limited attention in intertemporal choice. The model posits that individuals fully attend to consumption in all periods but fail to attend to some future lumpy expenditure opportunities. This asymmetry generates some predictions that overlap with other models of present-bias. Our model also generates the unique predictions that reminders will increase saving, and that a reminder that makes a specific expenditure more salient will be especially effective. We find support for these predictions in three field experiments that randomly assign reminders to new savings account holders.

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File URL: http://crr.bc.edu/working-papers/getting-to-the-top-of-mind-how-reminders-increase-saving/
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Paper provided by Center for Retirement Research in its series Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College with number wp2010-2.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:crr:crrwps:wp2010-2
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  1. Stefano DellaVigna, 2007. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," NBER Working Papers 13420, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Dean Karlan & Nava Ashaf & Wesley Yin, 2004. "Tying odysseus to the mast: Evidence from a commitment savings product in the philippines," Natural Field Experiments 00206, The Field Experiments Website.
  3. Jeremy Tobacman & David Laibson, 2007. "Estimating Discount Functions with Consumption Choices over the Lifecycle," Economics Series Working Papers 341, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2001. "Sticky Information Versus Sticky Prices: A Proposal to Replace the New Keynesian Phillips Curve," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1922, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  5. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2005. "The importance of default options for retirement saving outcomes: evidence from the United States," CeRP Working Papers 43, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
  7. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2000. "The Power of Suggestion: Inertia in 401(k) Participation and Savings Behavior," NBER Working Papers 7682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Esther Duflo & Michael Kremer & Jonathan Robinson, 2009. "Nudging Farmers to Use Fertilizer: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Kenya," NBER Working Papers 15131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. David K. Levine & Drew Fudenberg, 2006. "A Dual-Self Model of Impulse Control," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1449-1476, December.
  10. Dean Karlan & Nava Ashaf & Wesley Yin, 2006. "Deposit collectors," Natural Field Experiments 00205, The Field Experiments Website.
  11. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2009. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1145-77, September.
  12. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2004. "Saving or Retirement on the Path of Least Resistance," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000606, UCLA Department of Economics.
  13. Sims, Christopher A., 2003. "Implications of rational inattention," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 665-690, April.
  14. Nava Ashraf & Dean Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2005. "Deposit Collectors," Working Papers 930, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  15. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2004. "Self-Control and the Theory of Consumption," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 119-158, 01.
  16. Laurence Ball & N Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2003. "Monetary Policy for Inattentive Economies," Economics Working Paper Archive 491, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  17. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2005. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," NBER Working Papers 11755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Pascaline Dupas & Jonathan Robinson, 2013. "Savings Constraints and Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 163-92, January.
  19. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save More Tomorrow (TM): Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Saving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages S164-S187, February.
  20. Nava Ashraf & Dean S. Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2005. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence from a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," Working Papers 917, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  21. Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Saving, Fungibility, and Mental Accounts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 193-205, Winter.
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