IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Rules of Thumb in Life-Cycle Saving Decisions


  • Winter, Joachim
  • Schlafmann, Kathrin
  • Rodepeter, Ralf


We analyse life-cycle saving decisions when households use simple heuristics, or rules of thumb, rather than solve the underlying intertemporal optimization problem. We simulate life-cycle saving decisions using three simple rules and compute utility losses relative to the solution of the optimization problem. Our simulations suggest that utility losses induced by following simple decision rules are relatively low. Moreover, the two main saving motives re ected by the canonical life-cycle model { long-run consumption smoothing and short-run insurance against income shocks { can be addressed quite well by saving rules that do not require computationally demanding tasks such as backward induction.

Suggested Citation

  • Winter, Joachim & Schlafmann, Kathrin & Rodepeter, Ralf, 2011. "Rules of Thumb in Life-Cycle Saving Decisions," Discussion Papers in Economics 12334, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:12334

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Binswanger, Johannes & Carman, Katherine Grace, 2012. "How real people make long-term decisions: The case of retirement preparation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 39-60.
    2. Fabio C. Bagliano & Carolina Fugazza & Giovanna Nicodano, 2014. "Optimal Life-Cycle Portfolios for Heterogeneous Workers," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 18(6), pages 2283-2323.
    3. Geert Van Campenhout, 2015. "Revaluing the Role of Parents as Financial Socialization Agents in Youth Financial Literacy Programs," Journal of Consumer Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(1), pages 186-222, March.
    4. William L. Skimmyhorn & Evan R. Davies & David Mun & Brian Mitchell, 2016. "Assessing financial education methods: Principles vs. rules-of-thumb approaches," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(3), pages 193-210, July.
    5. Bettina Lamla, 2013. "Family background and the decision to provide for old age: a siblings approach," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 40(3), pages 483-504, August.
    6. Massenot, Baptiste, 2020. "Pain of Paying in a Business Cycle Model," SAFE Working Paper Series 194, Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE, revised 2020.
    7. Pablo Mira, 2023. "Consumption and Fluctuations: What Role for Behavioral Economics?," Ensayos Económicos, Central Bank of Argentina, Economic Research Department, vol. 1(82), pages 98-127, November.
    8. Dina Tasneem & Audrey Azerot & Marine de Montaignac & Jim Engle-Warnick, 2018. "A Laboratory Study of the E?ect of Financial Literacy Training on Retirement Savings," CIRANO Working Papers 2018s-24, CIRANO.
    9. Shafique, Attayah & Ayub, Usman & Zakaria, Muhammad, 2019. "Don’t let the Greed catch you! Pleonexia rule applied to Pakistan stock exchange," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 524(C), pages 157-168.
    10. Dina Tasneem & Jim Engle-Warnick, 2018. "Decision Rules for Precautionary and Retirement Savings," CIRANO Working Papers 2018s-22, CIRANO.
    11. Orlando Gomes, 2021. "Growth theory under heterogeneous heuristic behavior," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 533-571, April.
    12. Määttänen, Niku & Alho, Juha, 2014. "Response to updated mortality forecasts in life cycle saving and labor supply," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 1120-1127.
    13. Bagliano, Fabio C. & Fugazza, Carolina & Nicodano, Giovanna, 2021. "Life-cycle welfare losses from rules-of-thumb asset allocation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 198(C).
    14. Stuart Landon and Constance Smith, 2015. "Rule-Based Resource Revenue Stabilization Funds: A Welfare Comparison," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2).
    15. Orlando Gomes, 2021. "Hand-to-mouth consumers, rule-of-thumb savers, and optimal control," Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination, Springer;Society for Economic Science with Heterogeneous Interacting Agents, vol. 16(2), pages 229-263, April.
    16. Daria Pignalosa, 2021. "The Euler Equation Approach: Critical Implications of Recent Developments in the Theory of Intertemporal Choice," Bulletin of Political Economy, Bulletin of Political Economy, vol. 15(1), pages 1-43, June.
    17. Barasinska, Nataliya & Ludwig, Johannes & Vogel, Edgar, 2021. "The impact of borrower-based instruments on household vulnerability in Germany," Discussion Papers 20/2021, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    18. Bachmann, Kremena & Lot, Andre & Xu, Xiaogeng & Hens, Thorsten, 2023. "Experimental Research on Retirement Decision-Making: Evidence from Replications," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 152(C).
    19. Grigoli, Francesco & Herman, Alexander & Schmidt-Hebbel, Klaus, 2018. "Saving in the world," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 257-270.
    20. Larin, Alexander & Novak, Anna & Khvostova, Irina, 2013. "Consumption dynamics in Russia: Estimates on microdata," Applied Econometrics, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), vol. 32(4), pages 29-44.
    21. Koehler, Derek J. & Langstaff, Jesse & Liu, Wu-Qi, 2015. "A simulated financial savings task for studying consumption and retirement decision making," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 89-97.

    More about this item


    saving; life-cycle models; bounded rationality; rules of thumb;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:12334. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Tamilla Benkelberg (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.