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Limited and varying consumer attention: evidence from shocks to the salience of bank overdraft fees

  • Victor Stango
  • Jonathan Zinman

The authors explore dynamics of limited attention in the $35 billion market for checking overdrafts, using survey content as shocks to the salience of overdraft fees. Conditional on selection into surveys, individuals who face overdraft-related questions are less likely to incur a fee in the survey month. Taking multiple overdraft surveys builds a "stock" of attention that reduces overdrafts for up to two years. The effects are significant among consumers with lower education and financial literacy. Consumers avoid overdrafts not by increasing balances but by making fewer debit transactions and cancelling automatic recurring withdrawals. The results raise new questions about consumer financial protection policy.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 11-17.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:11-17
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  1. Jonathan Zinman, 2007. "Where is the missing credit card debt? Clues and implications," Payment Cards Center Discussion Paper 07-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  2. 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.
  3. Nicola Lacetera & Devin G. Pope & Justin R. Sydnor, 2011. "Heuristic Thinking and Limited Attention in the Car Market," NBER Working Papers 17030, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Kfir Eliaz & Ran Spiegler, 2011. "Consideration Sets and Competitive Marketing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(1), pages 235-262.
  5. Kolko, Jed, 2010. "A new measure of US residential broadband availability," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 132-143, April.
  6. Bertrand, Marianne & Karlan, Dean & Mullainathan, Sendhil & Shafir, Eldar & Zinman, Jonathan, 2009. "What's Advertising Content Worth? Evidence from a Consumer Credit Marketing Field Experiment," Working Papers 58, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  7. Austan Goolsbee, 2000. "In A World Without Borders: The Impact Of Taxes On Internet Commerce," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(2), pages 561-576, May.
  8. Victor Stango & Jonathan Zinman, 2009. "What Do Consumers Really Pay on Their Checking and Credit Card Accounts? Explicit, Implicit, and Avoidable Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 424-29, May.
  9. Sumit Agarwal & John C Driscoll & Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2008. "Learning in the Credit Card Market," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002028, David K. Levine.
  10. Dean Karlan & Margaret McConnell & Sendhil Mullainathan & Jonathan Zinman, 2010. "Getting to the Top of Mind: How Reminders Increase Saving," Working Papers 988, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  11. Jeffrey T. Prince, 2008. "Repeat Purchase amid Rapid Quality Improvement: Structural Estimation of Demand for Personal Computers," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(1), pages 1-33, 03.
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