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Incorporating Employee Heterogeneity Into Default Rules for Retirement Plan Selection

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  • Gopi Shah Goda
  • Colleen Flaherty Manchester

Abstract

This paper examines the effect of incorporating individual-level heterogeneity into default rules for retirement plan selection. We use data from a large employer that transitioned from a defined benefit (DB) plan to a defined contribution (DC) plan, offering existing employees a choice of plans. Employees who did not make a choice were defaulted to switch to the DC plan if under age 45 or remain in the DB plan if age 45 or older. Using a regression discontinuity framework, we estimate that the default increased the probability of enrolling in one plan over the other by 60 percentage points. We develop a framework to solve for the optimal age-based default rule analytically and use our results to empirically evaluate the optimal age-based default rule for the firm in our setting. We show that for a broad range of levels of risk aversion, conditioning the default for the choice between pension plans on age can substantially improve outcomes relative to a uniform default policy. Our results suggest that considerable welfare gains are possible by varying defaults by observable characteristics.

Suggested Citation

  • Gopi Shah Goda & Colleen Flaherty Manchester, 2010. "Incorporating Employee Heterogeneity Into Default Rules for Retirement Plan Selection," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2010-5, Center for Retirement Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:crr:crrwps:wp2010-5
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Gopi Shah Goda & Damon Jones & Colleen Manchester, 2013. "Retirement Plan Type and Employee Mobility: The Role of Selection and Incentive Effects," Discussion Papers 13-018, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    2. 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.
    3. Keith M. Marzilli Ericson, 2014. "When Consumers Do Not Make an Active Decision: Dynamic Default Rules and their Equilibrium Effects," NBER Working Papers 20127, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:2:p:951-981 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Dean Karlan, Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan, Jonathan Zinman, 2013. "Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda-Working Paper 346," Working Papers 346, Center for Global Development.
    6. Itzik Fadlon & Jessica Laird & Torben Heien Nielsen, 2016. "Do Employer Pension Contributions Reflect Employee Preferences? Evidence from a Retirement Savings Reform in Denmark," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 196-216, July.
    7. Dean Karlan & Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan & Jonathan Zinman, 2014. "Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(1), pages 36-78, March.
    8. Jonathan Cribb & Carl Emmerson, 2016. "What happens when employers are obliged to nudge? Automatic enrolment and pension saving in the UK," IFS Working Papers W16/19, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    9. Beshears, John & Choi, James J. & Laibson, David & Madrian, Brigitte C., 2011. "Behavioral economics perspectives on public sector pension plans," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(02), pages 315-336, April.
    10. Constantin Anghelache & Alexandru MANOLE & Marius POPOVICI & Emilia STANCIU, 2016. "Statistical analysis of the pensioners condition," Romanian Statistical Review Supplement, Romanian Statistical Review, vol. 64(12), pages 180-186, December.
    11. Brown, Jeffrey R. & Farrell, Anne M. & Weisbenner, Scott J., 2016. "Decision-making approaches and the propensity to default: Evidence and implications," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(3), pages 477-495.
    12. Julie Agnew & Joshua Hurwitz, 2013. "Financial Education and Choice in State Public Pension Systems," NBER Working Papers 18907, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Georg Weizsäcker & Martin G. Kocher & Felix Gelhaar & Simon Bartke, 2015. "Vielfalt in der ökonomischen Wissenschaft: Verhaltensökonomische Ansätze in der Diskussion," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 68(24), pages 03-12, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H8 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

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