IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Employer Matching and 401(k) Saving: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study

  • Gary V. Engelhardt
  • Anil Kumar

Employer matching of employee 401(k) contributions can provide a powerful incentive to save for retirement and is a key component in pension-plan design in the United States. Using detailed administrative contribution, earnings, and pension-plan data from the Health and Retirement Study, this analysis formulates a life-cycle-consistent econometric specification of 401(k) saving and estimates the determinants of saving accounting for non-linearities in the household budget set induced by matching. The participation estimates indicate that an increase in the match rate by 25 cents per dollar of employee contribution raises 401(k) participation by 3.75 to 6 percentage points, and the estimated elasticity of participation with respect to matching ranges from 0.02-0.07. The parametric and semi-parametric estimates for saving indicate that an increase in the match rate by 25 cents per dollar of employee contribution raises 401(k) saving by $400-$700 (in 1991 dollars). The estimated elasticity of 401(k) saving to matching is also small and ranges from 0.09-0.12 overall, with just under half of this effect on the intensive margin. Overall, the analysis reveals that matching is a rather poor policy instrument with which to raise retirement saving.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12447.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12447.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Aug 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Engelhardt, Gary V. & Kumar, Anil, 2007. "Employer matching and 401(k) saving: Evidence from the health and retirement study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(10), pages 1920-1943, November.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12447
Note: PE
Contact details of provider: Postal:
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
Email:


More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Newey, Whitney K., 1987. "Specification tests for distributional assumptions in the Tobit model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-2), pages 125-145.
  2. Richard W. Blundell & James L. Powell, 2004. "Endogeneity in Semiparametric Binary Response Models," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(3), pages 655-679.
  3. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2004. "Plan Design and 401(k) Savings Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 10486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Dammon, Robert M & Spatt, Chester S & Zhang, Harold H, 2001. "Optimal Consumption and Investment with Capital Gains Taxes," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 14(3), pages 583-616.
  5. John B. Shoven, 1999. "The Location and Allocation of Assets in Pension and Conventional Savings Accounts," NBER Working Papers 7007, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Mitchell, Olivia S, 1988. "Worker Knowledge of Pension Provisions," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(1), pages 21-39, January.
  7. Gene Amromin & Jennifer Huang & Clemens Sialm, 2007. "The tradeoff between mortgage prepayments and tax-deferred retirement savings," NBER Chapters, in: Trans-Atlantic Public Economics Seminar (TAPES), Public Policy and Retirement, pages 2014-2040 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Christopher D. Carroll, 1992. "The Buffer-Stock Theory of Saving: Some Macroeconomic Evidence," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(2), pages 61-156.
  10. Karen E. Dynan, 1993. "How prudent are consumers?," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 135, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  11. Tullio Jappelli & Jörn-Steffen Pischke & Nicholas S. Souleles, 1998. "Testing For Liquidity Constraints In Euler Equations With Complementary Data Sources," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(2), pages 251-262, May.
  12. Browning, Martin & Deaton, Angus & Irish, Margaret, 1985. "A Profitable Approach to Labor Supply and Commodity Demands over the Life-Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(3), pages 503-43, May.
  13. Engelhardt, Gary V. & Kumar, Anil, 2007. "Employer matching and 401(k) saving: Evidence from the health and retirement study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(10), pages 1920-1943, November.
  14. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1994. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," NBER Technical Working Papers 0151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. John Y. Campbell & João F. Cocco, 2003. "Household Risk Management and Optimal Mortgage Choice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1449-1494.
  16. Robert Dammon & Chester Spatt & Harold Zhang, . "Optimal Asset Location and Allocation with Taxable and Tax-Deferred Investing," GSIA Working Papers 2003-E44, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  17. Mitali Das & Whitney K. Newey & Francis Vella, 2003. "Nonparametric Estimation of Sample Selection Models," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 33-58.
  18. Daniel Feenberg & Elisabeth Coutts, 1993. "An introduction to the TAXSIM model," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(1), pages 189-194.
  19. repec:oup:restud:v:71:y:2004:i::p:655-679 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. R. Glenn Hubbard & Jonathan S. Skinner, 1996. "Assessing the Effectiveness of Saving Incentives," Books, American Enterprise Institute, number 53540, November.
  21. Martha Starr-McCluer & Annika E. Sunden, 1999. "Workers' knowledge of their pension coverage: a reevaluation," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-05, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  22. Alan L. Gustman & Olivia S. Mitchell & Andrew A. Samwick & Thomas L. Steinmeier, . "Pension and Social Security Wealth in the Health and Retirement Study," Pension Research Council Working Papers 97-3, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  23. Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2002. "Limited Asset Market Participation and the Elasticity of Intertemporal Substitution," NBER Working Papers 8896, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Robert E. Hall, 1981. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," NBER Working Papers 0720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Burtless, Gary & Hausman, Jerry A, 1978. "The Effect of Taxation on Labor Supply: Evaluating the Gary Negative Income Tax Experiments," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 1103-30, December.
  26. B. Douglas Bernheim & Daniel M. Garrett & Dean M. Maki, 1997. "Education and Saving: The Long-Term Effects of High School Financial Curriculum Mandates," Working Papers 97012, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  27. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2001. "The Power of Suggestion: Inertia in 401(k) Participation and Savings Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1149-1187.
  28. Vella, F, 1992. "Simple Tests for Sample Selection Bias in Censored and Discrete Choice Models," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 7(4), pages 413-21, Oct.-Dec..
  29. Diamond, Peter & Koszegi, Botond, 2003. "Quasi-hyperbolic discounting and retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 1839-1872, September.
  30. Muellbauer, John, 1976. "Community Preferences and the Representative Consumer," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(5), pages 979-99, September.
  31. Mitchell, Olivia S. & Utkus, Stephen P. & Yang, Tongxuan (Stella), 2007. "Turning Workers into Savers? Incentives, Liquidity, and Choice in 401(k) Plan Design," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 60(3), pages 469-89, September.
  32. Esther Duflo & William Gale & Jeffrey Liebman & Peter Orszag & Emmanuel Saez, 2005. "Saving Incentives for Low- and Middle-Income Families: Evidence from a Field Experiment with H&R Block," NBER Working Papers 11680, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  33. Olivia S. Mitchell & Stephen P. Utkus, 2002. "The Role of Company Stock in Defined Contribution Plans," NBER Working Papers 9250, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  34. Engelhardt, Gary V., 2002. "Pre-Retirement Lump-Sum Pension Distributions and Retirement Income Security: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 55(4), pages 665-85, December.
  35. Hausman, Jerry A, 1985. "The Econometrics of Nonlinear Budget Sets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1255-82, November.
  36. Attanasio, Orazio P & Weber, Guglielmo, 1995. "Is Consumption Growth Consistent with Intertemporal Optimization? Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1121-57, December.
  37. Soren Blomquist & Whitney Newey, 1999. "Nonparametric Estimation with Nonlinear Budget Sets," Working papers 99-03, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  38. John B. Shoven & Clemens Sialm, 1999. "Asset Location in Tax-Deferred and Conventional Savings Accounts," NBER Working Papers 7192, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  39. 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.
  40. Patrick J. Bayer & B. Douglas Bernheim & John Karl Scholz, 1996. "The Effects of Financial Education in the Workplace: Evidence from a Survey of Employers," Working Papers 96011, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  41. Matthew Rabin & Ted O'Donoghue, 1999. "Doing It Now or Later," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 103-124, March.
  42. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
  43. Bassett, William F. & Fleming, Michael J. & Rodrigues, Anthony P., 1998. "How Workers Use 401(k) Plans: The Participation, Contribution, and Withdrawal Decisions," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 51(n. 2), pages 263-89, June.
  44. Richard Blundell & Thomas MaCurdy, 1998. "Labour supply: a review of alternative approaches," IFS Working Papers W98/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  45. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2002. "Defined Contribution Pensions: Plan Rules, Participant Decisions, and the Path of Least Resistance," JCPR Working Papers 257, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  46. Gary V. Engelhardt & Anil Kumar, 2004. "Social Security Personal-Account Participation with Government Matching," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College 2004-22, Center for Retirement Research.
  47. Deaton, A., 1989. "Saving And Liquidity Constraints," Papers 153, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  48. Olivia Mitchell & Jan Olson & Thomas Steinmeier, 1996. "Construction of the Earnings and Benefits File (EBF) for Use With the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  49. Ziliak, J. & Kniesner, T.J., 1995. "Estimating life-cycle labor supply tax effects," Discussion Paper 1995-89, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  50. Newey, Whitney K., 1987. "Efficient estimation of limited dependent variable models with endogenous explanatory variables," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 231-250, November.
  51. James M. Poterba & John B. Shoven & Clemens Sialm, 2000. "Asset Location for Retirement Savers," NBER Working Papers 7991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  52. Dynan, Karen E, 1993. "How Prudent Are Consumers?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 1104-13, December.
  53. Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2002. "Limited Asset Market Participation and the Elasticity of Intertemporal Substitution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 825-853, August.
  54. 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.
  55. Brown, Jeffrey R. & Liang, Nellie & Weisbenner, Scott, 2006. "401(k) matching contributions in company stock: Costs and benefits for firms and workers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(6-7), pages 1315-1346, August.
  56. Cunningham, Christopher R. & Engelhardt, Gary V., 2002. "Federal Tax Policy, Employer Matching, and 401(k) Saving: Evidence from HRS W-2 Records," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 55(3), pages 617-45, September.
  57. Leslie E. Papke, 1992. "Participation in and Contributions to 401(k) Pension Plans: Evidence om Plan Data," NBER Working Papers 4199, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  58. Courtney Coile & Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Social Security and Retirement," NBER Working Papers 7830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  59. 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.
  60. Bernheim, B. Douglas & Garrett, Daniel M., 2003. "The effects of financial education in the workplace: evidence from a survey of households," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1487-1519, August.
  61. repec:fth:pennfi:69 is not listed on IDEAS
  62. repec:crr:crrwps:2000-12 is not listed on IDEAS
  63. Newey, Whitney K., 1986. "Linear instrumental variable estimation of limited dependent variable models with endogenous explanatory variables," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 127-141, June.
  64. repec:oup:restud:v:61:y:1994:i:1:p:57-80 is not listed on IDEAS
  65. Richard Blundell & Martin Browning & Costas Meghir, 1993. "Consumer demand and the life-cycle allocation of household expenditures," IFS Working Papers W93/11, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  66. McDonald, John F & Moffitt, Robert A, 1980. "The Uses of Tobit Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(2), pages 318-21, May.
  67. Papke, Leslie E. & Poterba, James M., 1995. "Survey evidence on employer match rates and employee saving behavior in 401(k) plans," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 313-317, September.
  68. Douglas W. Elmendorf, 1996. "The effect of interest-rate changes on household saving and consumption: a survey," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 96-27, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  69. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2002. "For Better or For Worse: Default Effects and 401(k) Savings Behavior," JCPR Working Papers 256, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  70. James M. Poterba, 2003. "Employer Stock and 401(k) Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 398-404, May.
  71. Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier & Parker, Jonathan A, 2000. "Consumption Over the Life-Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 2345, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  72. James Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2003. "Passive Decisions and Potent Defaults," NBER Working Papers 9917, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  73. Summers, Lawrence H, 1981. "Capital Taxation and Accumulation in a Life Cycle Growth Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 533-44, September.
  74. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2000. "The Power of Suggestion: Inertia in 401(k) Participation and Savings Behavior," NBER Working Papers 7682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  75. Leora Friedberg & Anthony Webb, 2003. "Retirement and the Evolution of Pension Structure," NBER Working Papers 9999, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  76. Thomas MaCurdy & David Green & Harry Paarsch, 1990. "Assessing Empirical Approaches for Analyzing Taxes and Labor Supply," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(3), pages 415-490.
  77. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save More Tomorrow (TM): Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Saving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages S164-S187, February.
  78. Julie Agnew & Pierluigi Balduzzi & Annika Sundén, 2003. "Portfolio Choice and Trading in a Large 401(k) Plan," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 193-215, March.
  79. Joulfaian, David & Richardson, David, 2001. "Who Takes Advantage of Tax-Deferred Savings Programs? Evidence from Federal Income Tax Data," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 54(n. 3), pages 669-88, September.
  80. Johnson, Richard W & Sambamoorthi, Usha & Crystal, Stephen, 2000. "Pension Wealth at Midlife: Comparing Self-Reports with Provider Data," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(1), pages 59-83, March.
  81. Esther Duflo & William Gale & Jeffrey Liebman & Peter Orszag & Emmanuel Saez, 2006. "Saving Incentives for Low- and Middle-Income Families: Evidence from a Field Experiment with H&R Block," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1311-1346.
  82. R. Glenn Hubbard & Jonathan S. Skinner, 1996. "Assessing the Effectiveness of Saving Incentives," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 73-90, Fall.
  83. Moffitt, Robert, 1990. "The Econometrics of Kinked Budget Constraints," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 119-39, Spring.
  84. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2003. "Optimal Defaults," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 180-185, May.
  85. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1999. "What People Don't Know About Their Pensions and Social Security: An Analysis Using Linked Data from the Health and Retirement Study," NBER Working Papers 7368, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  86. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2001. "Naive Diversification Strategies in Defined Contribution Saving Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 79-98, March.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12447. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

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.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with 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 profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

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

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.