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Mental Accounting in Portfolio Choice: Evidence from a Flypaper Effect

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  • Laibson, David I.
  • Madrian, Brigitte C.
  • Choi, James J.

Abstract

Consistent with mental accounting, we document that investors sometimes choose the asset allocation for one account without considering the asset allocation of their other accounts. The setting is a firm that changed its 401(k) matching rules. Initially, 401(k) enrollees chose the allocation of their own contributions, but the firm chose the match allocation. These enrollees ignored the match allocation when choosing their own-contribution allocation. In the second regime, enrollees simultaneously selected both allocations, leading them to mentally integrate the two. Own-contribution allocations before the rule change equal the combined own and match-contribution allocations afterwards, whereas combined allocations differ sharply across regimes.

Suggested Citation

  • Laibson, David I. & Madrian, Brigitte C. & Choi, James J., 2009. "Mental Accounting in Portfolio Choice: Evidence from a Flypaper Effect," Scholarly Articles 4686774, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:4686774
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    Cited by:

    1. John Y. Campbell & Howell E. Jackson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Peter Tufano, 2011. "Consumer Financial Protection," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 91-114, Winter.
    2. Luigi Guiso, 2015. "A Test of Narrow Framing and its Origin," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 1(1), pages 61-100, March.
    3. Alejandro Ponce & Enrique Seira & Guillermo Zamarripa, 2017. "Borrowing on the Wrong Credit Card? Evidence from Mexico," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(4), pages 1335-1361, April.
    4. Beshears, John & Choi, James J. & Laibson, David & Madrian, Brigitte C., 2017. "Does front-loading taxation increase savings? Evidence from Roth 401(k) introductions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 151(C), pages 84-95.
    5. Spiegel, Matthew & Zhang, Hong, 2013. "Mutual fund risk and market share-adjusted fund flows," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(2), pages 506-528.
    6. Alexander, Gordon J. & Baptista, Alexandre M. & Yan, Shu, 2017. "Portfolio selection with mental accounts and estimation risk," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 161-186.
    7. Stephanie Riegg Cellini & Fernando Ferreira & Jesse Rothstein, 2008. "The Value of School Facilities: Evidence from a Dynamic Regression Discontinuity Design," Working Papers 1104, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Education Research Section..
    8. Jonathan A. Parker, 2015. "Why Don't Households Smooth Consumption? Evidence from a 25 Million Dollar Experiment," NBER Working Papers 21369, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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. John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2017. "Does Aggregated Returns Disclosure Increase Portfolio Risk Taking?," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 30(6), pages 1971-2005.
    11. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:2:p:951-981 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Baptista, Alexandre M., 2012. "Portfolio selection with mental accounts and background risk," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 968-980.
    13. James Alm & Carolyn J. Bourdeaux, 2013. "Applying Behavioral Economics to the Public Sector," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 206(3), pages 91-134, September.
    14. Dahlquist, Magnus & Setty, Ofer & Vestman, Roine, 2016. "On the Asset Allocation of a Default Pension Fund," CEPR Discussion Papers 11052, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. French, Declan & McKillop, Donal, 2016. "Financial literacy and over-indebtedness in low-income households," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 1-11.
    16. Massa, Massimo & Simonov, Andrei & Stenkrona, Anders, 2015. "Style representation and portfolio choice," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 1-25.
    17. Alexander, Gordon J. & Baptista, Alexandre M., 2011. "Portfolio selection with mental accounts and delegation," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(10), pages 2637-2656, October.
    18. Monika Bütler & Stefan Staubli, 2010. "Payouts in Switzerland: Explaining Developments in Annuitization," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2010 2010-06, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
    19. John Yinger & Phuong Nguyen-Hoang, 2015. "The Behavioral Impacts of Poverty Tax Relief: Salience or Framing?," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 186, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
    20. Holgar Müller & Eike Benjamin Kroll & Bodo Vogt, 2009. "Fact or Artifact Does the compromise effect occur when subjects face real consequences of their choices?," FEMM Working Papers 09009, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Faculty of Economics and Management.
    21. David Blake & Tom Boardman, 2014. "Spend More Today Safely: Using Behavioral Economics to Improve Retirement Expenditure Decisions With SPEEDOMETER Plans," Risk Management and Insurance Review, American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 17(1), pages 83-112, March.
    22. Umar M. A. Boodoo & Rafael Gomez & Morley Gunderson, 2014. "Relative income, absolute income and the life satisfaction of older adults: do retirees differ from the non-retired?," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(4), pages 281-299, July.
    23. David Hirshleife, 2015. "Behavioral Finance," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 7(1), pages 133-159, December.
    24. Fafchamps, Marcel & McKenzie, David & Quinn, Simon & Woodruff, Christopher, 2014. "Microenterprise growth and the flypaper effect: Evidence from a randomized experiment in Ghana," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 211-226.
    25. Luc Christiaensen & Lei Pan, 2010. "Transfers and Development: Easy Come, Easy Go?," WIDER Working Paper Series 125, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions

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