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Incorporating Employee Heterogeneity into Default Rules for Retirement Plan Selection

  • Gopi Shah Goda
  • Colleen Flaherty Manchester

We study the effect of incorporating heterogeneity into default rules by examining the choice between retirement plans at a firm which transitioned from a defined benefit (DB) to a defined contribution (DC) plan. The default plan for existing employees varied discontinuously depending on their age. Employing regression discontinuity techniques, we find that the default increased the probability of enrollment in the default plan by 60 percentage points. We develop a framework to solve for the optimal default rule analytically and numerically and find that considerable welfare gains are possible if defaults vary by observable characteristics.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16099.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16099.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Publication status: published as Gopi Shah Goda & Colleen Flaherty Manchester, 2013. "Incorporating Employee Heterogeneity into Default Rules for Retirement Plan Selection," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(1), pages 198-235.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16099
Note: AG PE
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  1. John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2005. "The importance of default options for retirement saving outcomes: evidence from the United States," CeRP Working Papers 43, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
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  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2005. "Are Empowerment and Education Enough? Underdiversification in 401(k) Plans," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(2), pages 151-214.
  16. Daniel G. Goldstein & Eric J. Johnson & William F. Sharpe, 2008. "Choosing Outcomes versus Choosing Products: Consumer-Focused Retirement Investment Advice," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(3), pages 440-456, 08.
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