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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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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp2939.pdf
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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. 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.
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  8. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2011. "$100 Bills on the Sidewalk: Suboptimal Investment in 401(k) Plans," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 748-763, August.
  9. Annamaria Lusardi, 2000. "Explaining Why So Many Households Do Not Save," Working Papers 0001, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  10. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. 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.
  12. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1996. "How Retirement Saving Programs Increase Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 91-112, Fall.
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  15. 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.
  16. Gabriel D. Carroll & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2009. "Optimal Defaults and Active Decisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1639-1674.
  17. Orley Ashenfelter & David Card, 2001. "Did the Elimination of Mandatory Retirement Affect Faculty Retirement Flows?," NBER Working Papers 8378, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2001. "Imperfect Knowledge, Retirement and Saving," NBER Working Papers 8406, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Orley Ashenfelter & David Card, 2002. "Did the Elimination of Mandatory Retirement Affect Faculty Retirement?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 957-980, September.
  20. Gur Huberman & Sheena Iyengar & Wei Jiang, 2007. "Defined Contribution Pension Plans: Determinants of Participation and Contributions Rates," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 31(1), pages 1-32, February.
  21. Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1996. "Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts," Discussion Papers 96-01, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  22. B. Douglas Bernheim & Jonathan Skinner & Steven Weinberg, 2001. "What Accounts for the Variation in Retirement Wealth among U.S. Households?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 832-857, September.
  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.
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