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Framing Effects and Expected Social Security Claiming Behavior

Author

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey R. Brown & Arie Kapteyn & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2011. "Framing Effects and Expected Social Security Claiming Behavior," NBER Working Papers 17018, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17018
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17018.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 304-309, May.
    2. 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.
    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 418-422, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jingjing Chai & Raimond Maurer & Olivia S. Mitchell & Ralph Rogalla, 2012. "Exchanging Delayed Social Security Benefits for Lump Sums: Could This Incentivize Longer Work Careers?," Working Papers wp266, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    2. Satoshi Shimizutani & Takashi Oshio, 2016. "Public Pension Benefits Claiming Behaviour: new Evidence from the Japanese Study on Ageing and Retirement," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 235-256, September.
    3. John Payne & Namika Sagara & Suzanne Shu & Kirstin Appelt & Eric Johnson, 2013. "Life expectancy as a constructed belief: Evidence of a live-to or die-by framing effect," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 46(1), pages 27-50, February.
    4. Frank van Erp & Niels Vermeer & Daniël van Vuuren, 2013. "Non-financial determinants of retirement," CPB Discussion Paper 243, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    5. Jeffrey B. Liebman & Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2015. "Would People Behave Differently If They Better Understood Social Security? Evidence from a Field Experiment," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 275-299, February.
    6. Federica Teppa & Maarten van Rooij, 2012. "Are Retirement Decisions Vulnerable to Framing Effects? Empirical Evidence from NL and the US," DNB Working Papers 366, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    7. David Blake & Tom Boardman, 2014. "Spend More Today Safely: Using Behavioral Economics to Improve Retirement Expenditure Decisions With SPEEDOMETER Plans," Risk Management and Insurance Review, American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 17(1), pages 83-112, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions

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