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Small Cues Change Savings Choices

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  • James J. Choi
  • Emily Haisley
  • Jennifer Kurkoski
  • Cade Massey

Abstract

In randomized field experiments, we embedded one- to two-sentence anchoring, goal-setting, or savings threshold cues in emails to employees about their 401(k) savings plan. We find that anchors increase or decrease 401(k) contribution rates by up to 1.9% of income. A high savings goal example raises contribution rates by up to 2.2% of income. Highlighting a higher savings threshold in the match incentive structure raises contributions by up to 1.5% of income relative to highlighting the lower threshold. Highlighting the maximum possible contribution rate raises contribution rates by up to 2.9% of income among low savers.

Suggested Citation

  • James J. Choi & Emily Haisley & Jennifer Kurkoski & Cade Massey, 2012. "Small Cues Change Savings Choices," NBER Working Papers 17843, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17843
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    Cited by:

    1. Gopi Shah Goda & Colleen Flaherty Manchester & Aaron Sojourner, 2012. "What Will My Account Really Be Worth? An Experiment on Exponential Growth Bias and Retirement Saving," NBER Working Papers 17927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Mitchell, O.S. & Piggott, J., 2016. "Workplace-Linked Pensions for an Aging Demographic," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, in: Piggott, John & Woodland, Alan (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 865-904, Elsevier.
    3. Dean Karlan & Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan & Jonathan Zinman, 2014. "Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(1), pages 36-78, March.
    4. Alberto Chong & Dean Karlan & Jeremy Shapiro & Jonathan Zinman, 2015. "(Ineffective) Messages to Encourage Recycling: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Peru," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 29(1), pages 180-206.
    5. Goldin, Jacob & Homonoff, Tatiana & Patterson, Richard & Skimmyhorn, William, 2020. "How much to save? Decision costs and retirement plan participation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 191(C).
    6. Ganguli, Ina & Le Coq, Chloé & Huysentruyt, Marieke, 2018. "How Do Nascent Social Entrepreneurs Respond to Rewards? A Field Experiment on Motivations in a Grant Competition," SITE Working Paper Series 46, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics, revised 23 Nov 2020.
    7. Loibl, Cäzilia & Jones, Lauren & Haisley, Emily, 2018. "Testing strategies to increase saving in individual development account programs," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 45-63.
    8. Maya Haran Rosen & Orly Sade, 2019. "Does Financial Regulation Unintentionally Ignore Less Privileged Populations? The Investigation of a Regulatory Fintech Advancement, Objective and Subjective Financial Literacy," Natural Field Experiments 00662, The Field Experiments Website.
    9. John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2014. "Who Uses the Roth 401(k), and How Do They Use It?," NBER Chapters, in: Discoveries in the Economics of Aging, pages 411-440, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Robert L. Clark & Jennifer A. Maki & Melinda Sandler Morrill, 2014. "Can Simple Informational Nudges Increase Employee Participation in a 401(k) Plan?," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 80(3), pages 677-701, January.
    11. Ina Ganguli & Marieke Huysentruyt & Chloe Le Coq, 2018. "How Do Nascent Social Entrepreneurs Respond to Rewards? A Field Experiment on Motivations in a Grant Competition," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2018-21, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    12. Geiger, Martin & Luhan, Wolfgang J. & Scharler, Johann, 2016. "When do fiscal consolidations lead to consumption booms? Lessons from a laboratory experiment," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 1-20.
    13. Ander Iraizoz, 2020. "Saving for retirement through the public pension system: Evidence from the self-employed in Spain," Working Papers halshs-02948136, HAL.
    14. Matthew Olckers, 2020. "On Track for Retirement?," Papers 2005.01692, arXiv.org, revised Sep 2020.
    15. Goda, Gopi Shah & Manchester, Colleen Flaherty & Sojourner, Aaron J., 2014. "What will my account really be worth? Experimental evidence on how retirement income projections affect saving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 80-92.
    16. Mason, Richard, 2019. "Digital enrollment architecture and retirement savings decisions: Evidence from the field," Other publications TiSEM 58639618-e34e-4b5c-8c8c-a, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    17. Jetter, Michael & Walker, Jay K., 2017. "Anchoring in financial decision-making: Evidence from Jeopardy!," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 164-176.
    18. Bingxiao Wu, 2019. "Information presentation and consumer choice: Evidence from Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Success Rate Reports," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(7), pages 868-883, July.
    19. Ander Iraizoz, 2020. "Saving for retirement through the public pension system: Evidence from the self-employed in Spain," PSE Working Papers halshs-02948136, HAL.
    20. Keys, Benjamin J. & Wang, Jialan, 2019. "Minimum payments and debt paydown in consumer credit cards," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(3), pages 528-548.
    21. Jetter, Michael & Walker, Jay K., 2016. "Anchoring in Financial Decision-Making: Evidence from the Field," IZA Discussion Papers 10151, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    22. Hagen, Johannes & Hallberg, Daniel & Sjögren Lindquist, Gabriella, 2018. "A nudge to quit? The effect of a change in pension information on annuitization, labor supply and retirement choices among older workers," GLO Discussion Paper Series 209, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    23. Frydman, Cary & Rangel, Antonio, 2014. "Debiasing the disposition effect by reducing the saliency of information about a stock's purchase price," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 107(PB), pages 541-552.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • G02 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Behavioral Finance: Underlying Principles

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