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Getting to the Top of Mind: How Reminders Increase Saving

  • Dean Karlan
  • Margaret McConnell
  • Sendhil Mullainathan
  • Jonathan Zinman

We develop and test a simple model of limited attention in intertemporal choice. The model posits that individuals fully attend to consumption in all periods but fail to attend to some future lumpy expenditure opportunities. This asymmetry generates some predictions that overlap with models of present-bias. Our model also generates the unique predictions that reminders may increase saving, and that reminders will be more effective when they increase the salience of a specific expenditure. We find support for these predictions in three field experiments that randomly assign reminders to new savings account holders.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16205.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16205
Note: AG
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  1. Richard Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save more tomorrow: Using behavioral economics to increase employee saving," Natural Field Experiments 00337, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. 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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  4. Laibson, David I. & Gabaix, Xavier, 2006. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," Scholarly Articles 4554333, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Dean Karlan & Nava Ashaf & Wesley Yin, 2004. "Tying odysseus to the mast: Evidence from a commitment savings product in the philippines," Natural Field Experiments 00206, The Field Experiments Website.
  6. 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.
  7. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2004. "For Better or for Worse: Default Effects and 401(k) Savings Behavior," NBER Chapters, in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 81-126 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "A Memory-Based Model Of Bounded Rationality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 735-774, August.
  9. Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David, 2006. "A Dual-Self Model of Impulse Control," Scholarly Articles 3196335, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Laurence Ball & N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2003. "Monetary Policy for Inattentive Economies," NBER Working Papers 9491, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. S. Dellavigna., 2011. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 5.
  12. Sims, Christopher A., 2003. "Implications of rational inattention," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 665-690, April.
  13. Mankiw, N. Gregory & Reis, Ricardo, 2002. "Sticky Information Versus Sticky Prices: A Proposal to Replace the New Keynesian Phillips Curve," Scholarly Articles 3415324, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  14. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  15. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2009. "Salience and taxation: theory and evidence," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2009-11, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  16. Robinson, Jonathan & Dupas, Pascaline, 2009. "Savings Constraints and Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt34w0w53t, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  17. Jeremy Tobacman & David Laibson, 2007. "Estimating Discount Functions with Consumption Choices over the Lifecycle," Economics Series Working Papers 341, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  18. Esther Duflo & Michael Kremer & Jonathan Robinson, 2009. "Nudging Farmers to Use Fertilizer: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Kenya," NBER Working Papers 15131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. David Laibson, 2001. "A Cue-Theory Of Consumption," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 81-119, February.
  20. Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Saving, Fungibility, and Mental Accounts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 193-205, Winter.
  21. Nava Ashraf & Dean Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2005. "Deposit Collectors," Working Papers 930, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
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