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Would People Behave Differently If They Better Understood Social Security? Evidence From a Field Experiment

  • Jeffrey B. Liebman
  • Erzo F.P. Luttmer

This paper presents the results of a field experiment in which a sample of older workers was randomized between a treatment group that was given information about key Social Security provisions and a control group that was not. The experiment was designed to examine whether it is possible to affect individual behavior using a relatively inexpensive informational intervention about the provisions of a public program and to explore the mechanisms underlying the behavior change. We find that our relatively mild intervention (sending an informational brochure and an invitation to a web-tutorial) increased labor force participation one year later by 4 percentage points relative to the control group mean of 74 percent and that this effect is driven by a 7.2 percentage point increase among female subjects. In addition to affecting actual labor supply behavior, the information intervention increased survey measures of the perceived returns to working longer, especially among female respondents.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17287.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17287.

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Date of creation: Aug 2011
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Publication status: published as 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 275-99, February.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17287
Note: AG LS PE
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  9. Liebman, Jeffrey & Luttmer, Erzo E. P. & Seif, David G., 2009. "Labor Supply Responses to Marginal Social Security Benefits: Evidence from Discontinuities," Working Paper Series rwp09-003, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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  14. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2009. "How Ordinary Consumers Make Complex Economic Decisions: Financial Literacy and Retirement Readiness," CeRP Working Papers 90, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
  15. Justine S. Hastings & Lydia Tejeda-Ashton, 2008. "Financial Literacy, Information, and Demand Elasticity: Survey and Experimental Evidence from Mexico," NBER Working Papers 14538, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Olivia S. Mitchell, 1987. "Worker Knowledge of Pension Provisions," NBER Working Papers 2414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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