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Incentives and Information as Driving Forces of Default Effects

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  • Altmann, Steffen

    () (IZA and University of Copenhagen)

  • Falk, Armin

    () (briq, University of Bonn)

  • Grunewald, Andreas

    () (Goethe University Frankfurt)

Abstract

The behavioral relevance of non-binding default options is well established. While most research has focused on decision makers' responses to a given default, we argue that this individual decision making perspective is incomplete. Instead, a comprehensive understanding of the foundation of default effects requires taking account of the strategic interaction between default setters and decision makers. We provide a theoretical framework to analyze which default options arise in such interactions, and which defaults are more likely to affect behavior. The key drivers are the relative level of information of default setters and decision makers, and their alignment of interests. We show that default effects are more pronounced if interests of the default setter and decision makers are more closely aligned. Moreover, decision makers are more likely to follow default options the less they are privately informed about the relevant decision environment. In the second part of the paper we experimentally test the main predictions of the model. We report evidence that both the alignment of interests as well as the relative level of information are key determinants of default effects. An important policy relevant conclusion is that potential distortions arising from default options are unlikely if decision makers are either well-informed or reflect on the interests of default setters.

Suggested Citation

  • Altmann, Steffen & Falk, Armin & Grunewald, Andreas, 2013. "Incentives and Information as Driving Forces of Default Effects," IZA Discussion Papers 7610, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7610
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    Cited by:

    1. Egebark, Johan & Ekström, Mathias, 2016. "Can indifference make the world greener?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 1-13.
    2. Steffen Altmann & Armin Falk & Paul Heidhues & Rajshri Jayaraman, 2014. "Defaults and Donations: Evidence from a Field Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 5118, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Borghans, Lex & Golsteyn, Bart H.H., 2015. "Susceptibility to default training options across the population," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 369-379.
    4. Felix Ebeling, 2013. "Non-binding Defaults and Voluntary Contributions to a Public Good - Clean Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment," Working Paper Series in Economics 66, University of Cologne, Department of Economics.
    5. Gravert, Christina & Kurz, Verena, 2017. "Nudging à la carte – A field experiment on food choice," Working Papers in Economics 690, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2017.
    6. Jacobsen, Catrine & Piovesan, Marco, 2016. "Tax me if you can: An artifactual field experiment on dishonesty," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 7-14.
    7. Asen Ivanov, 2018. "Optimal Default Policies in Defined Contribution Pension Plans when Employees are Biased," Working Papers 858, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    default options; libertarian paternalism; behavioral economics; incentives; laboratory experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D18 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Protection
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior

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