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Framing Effects and Expected Social Security Claiming Behavior

  • Jeffrey R. Brown
  • Arie Kapteyn
  • Olivia S. Mitchell

Eligible participants in the U.S. Social Security system may claim benefits anytime from age 62-70, with benefit levels actuarially adjusted based on the claiming age. This paper shows that individual intentions with regard to Social Security claiming ages are sensitive to how the early versus late claiming decision is framed. Using an experimental design, we find that the use of a "break-even analysis" has the very strong effect of encouraging individuals to claim early. We also show that individuals are more likely to report they will delay claiming when later claiming is framed as a gain, and when the information provides an anchoring point at older, rather than younger, ages. Moreover, females, individuals with credit card debt, and workers with lower expected benefits are more strongly influenced by framing. We conclude that some individuals may not make fully rational optimizing choices when it comes to choosing a claiming date.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17018.

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Date of creation: May 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Brown, J. R., Kapteyn, A. and Mitchell, O. S. (2013), FRAMING AND CLAIMING: HOW INFORMATION-FRAMING AFFECTS EXPECTED SOCIAL SECURITY CLAIMING BEHAVIOR. Journal of Risk and Insurance. doi: 10.1111/j.1539-6975.2013.12004.x
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17018
Note: AG PE
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  1. H. Benitez-Silva & F. Heiland, 2008. "Early claiming of social security benefits and labour supply behaviour of older Americans," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(23), pages 2969-2985.
  2. Jeffrey R. Brown & Jeffrey R. Kling & Sendhil Mullainathan & Marian V. Wrobel, 2008. "Why Don't People Insure Late Life Consumption: A Framing Explanation of the Under-Annuitization Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 13748, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Julie R. Agnew & Lisa R. Anderson & Jeffrey R. Gerlach & Lisa R. Szykman, 2008. "Who Chooses Annuities? An Experimental Investigation of the Role of Gender, Framing, and Defaults," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 418-22, May.
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