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Effectiveness of tax incentives to boost (retirement) saving: theoretical motivation and empirical evidence

Author

Listed:
  • Orazio Attanasio

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London)

  • James Banks

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Manchester)

  • Matthew Wakefield

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Bologna)

Abstract

The adequacy of household saving for retirement has become a policy issue all around the world. The UK and US have been in the vanguard of those countries that have tried to encourage retirement saving by providing tax-favoured treatment for particular savings accounts. We consider empirical evidence from these two countries regarding the extent to which funds in some specific tax advantaged accounts (IRAs in the US, TESSAs and ISAs in the UK) represent new savings. Our best interpretation of this evidence is that: only relatively small fractions of these funds can be considered to be "new" saving and so these policies have been an expensive means of encouraging saving; there has been some deadweight loss from the policies associated with "reshuffling" of existing savings. Continuing improvements in data on individual financial behaviour create scope for future empirical analysis of incentives to save, both within the standard economic framework that we explain and exploit, and by considering extensions to and adaptations of it.

Suggested Citation

  • Orazio Attanasio & James Banks & Matthew Wakefield, 2004. "Effectiveness of tax incentives to boost (retirement) saving: theoretical motivation and empirical evidence," IFS Working Papers W04/33, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:04/33
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    File URL: http://www.ifs.org.uk/wps/wp0433.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Carl Emmerson & Sarah Tanner, 2000. "A note on the tax treatment of private pensions and Individual Savings Accounts," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, pages 65-74.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jarkko Harju, 2013. "Voluntary Pension Savings and Tax Incentives: Evidence from Finland," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 69(1), pages 3-29, March.
    2. Immacolata Marino & Filippo Pericoli & Luigi Ventura, 2011. "Tax Incentives and Household Investment in Complementary Pension Insurance: Some Recent Evidence From the Italian Experience," Risk Management and Insurance Review, American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 14(2), pages 247-263, September.
    3. International Monetary Fund, 2016. "New Zealand; Selected Issues," IMF Staff Country Reports 16/40, International Monetary Fund.
    4. Robert P. Hagemann, 2012. "Fiscal Consolidation: Part 6. What Are the Best Policy Instruments for Fiscal Consolidation?," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 937, OECD Publishing.
    5. Clovis Kerdrain & Isabell Koske & Isabelle Wanner, 2010. "The Impact of Structural Policies on Saving, Investment and Current Accounts," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 815, OECD Publishing.
    6. Martin Beznoska & Viktor Steiner, 2012. "Does Consumption Decline at Retirement?: Evidence from Repeated Cross-Section Data for Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1220, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    7. Ján Remeta & Sarah Perret & Martin Jareš & Bert Brys, 2015. "Moving Beyond the Flat Tax - Tax Policy Reform in the Slovak Republic," OECD Taxation Working Papers 22, OECD Publishing.
    8. Clovis Kerdrain & Isabell Koske & Isabelle Wanner, 2011. "Current Account Imbalances: can Structural Reforms Help to Reduce Them?," OECD Journal: Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2011(1), pages 1-44.
    9. Juan Ayuso & Juan F. Jimeno & Ernesto Villanueva, 2007. "The effects of the introduction of tax incentives on retirement savings," Working Papers 0724, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    10. Maré, Dave C. & Sanderson, Lynda & Fabling, Richard, 2014. "Earnings and Employment in Foreign-Owned Firms," IZA Discussion Papers 8541, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Richard Disney & Carl Emmerson & Matthew Wakefield, 2007. "Tax reform and retirement saving incentives: evidence from the introduction of stakeholder pensions in the UK," IFS Working Papers W07/19, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    12. Jarkko Harju, 2009. "Voluntary pension savings: the effects of the Finnish tax reform on savers' behaviour," Working Papers 7, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
    13. Wang, Hong & Koo, Bonsoo & O'Hare, Colin, 2016. "Retirement planning in the light of changing demographics," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 52(PB), pages 749-763.
    14. Beznoska, Martin & Steiner, Viktor, 2012. "Does consumption decline at retirement? Evidence from repeated cross-section data for Germany," Discussion Papers 2012/14, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Saving; tax incentives to save; lifecycle model; household behaviour;

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H39 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Other

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