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Pension Plan Characteristics and Framing Effects in Employee Savings Behavior

  • Card, David

    ()

    (University of California, Berkeley)

  • Ransom, Michael R.

    ()

    (Brigham Young University)

In this paper we document the importance of framing effects in the retirement savings decisions of college professors. Pensions in many post-secondary institutions are funded by a combination of an employer contribution and a mandatory employee contribution. Employees can also make tax-deferred contributions to a supplemental savings account. A standard lifecycle savings model predicts a “dollar-for-dollar” tradeoff between supplemental savings and the combined regular pension contributions made on behalf of an employee. Contrary to this prediction, we estimate that each additional dollar of employee contributions leads to a 70 cent reduction in supplemental savings, whereas each dollar of employer contributions generates only a 30 cent reduction. The asymmetry – which is consistent with different “mental accounts” for employer and employee contributions – provides further evidence of the sensitivity of individual savings decisions to the precise details of their pension plan.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2939.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Review of Economics and Statistics, 2011, 93 (1), 228 - 243
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2939
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  2. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
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  7. James Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte Madrian, 2008. "$100 Bills on the Sidewalk: Suboptimal Investment in 401(K) Plans," Yale School of Management Working Papers amz2519, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Jul 2009.
  8. Olivia S. Mitchell & Sylvester J. Schieber, . "Defined Contribution Pensions: New Opportunities, New Risks," Pension Research Council Working Papers 96-18, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  9. John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2006. "The Importance of Default Options for Retirement Savings Outcomes: Evidence from the United States," NBER Working Papers 12009, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  14. Ashenfelter, Orley & Card, David, 2001. "Did the Elimination of Mandatory Retirement Affect Faculty Retirement Flows?," IZA Discussion Papers 402, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti, 1998. "Personal Retirement Saving Programs and Asset Accumulation: Reconciling the Evidence," NBER Chapters, in: Frontiers in the Economics of Aging, pages 23-124 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. B. Douglas Bernheim & Jonathan Skinner & Steven Weinberg, 1997. "What Accounts for the Variation in Retirement Wealth Among U.S. Households?," NBER Working Papers 6227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Papke, Leslie E., 2004. "Individual financial decisions in retirement saving plans: the role of participant-direction," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1-2), pages 39-61, January.
  18. Jerry Hausman, 2001. "Mismeasured Variables in Econometric Analysis: Problems from the Right and Problems from the Left," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 57-67, Fall.
  19. Peter Kooreman, 2000. "The Labeling Effect of a Child Benefit System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 571-583, June.
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  21. Eric M. Engen & William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1996. "The Illusory Effects of Saving Incentives on Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 113-138, Fall.
  22. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2001. "Imperfect Knowledge, Retirement and Saving," Working Papers wp012, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  23. William G. Gale, 1998. "The Effects of Pensions on Household Wealth: A Reevaluation of Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(4), pages 706-723, August.
  24. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2005. "$100 Bills on the Sidewalk: Suboptimal Saving in 401(k) Plans," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000649, UCLA Department of Economics.
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