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Matching Contributions and Savings Outcomes: A Behavioral Economics Perspective

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  • Brigitte C. Madrian

Abstract

Including a matching contribution increases savings plan participation and contributions, although the impact is less significant than the impact of nonfinancial approaches. Conditional on participation, a higher match rate has only a small effect on savings plan contributions. In contrast, the match threshold has a substantial impact, probably because it serves as a natural reference point when individuals are deciding how much to save and may be viewed as advice from the savings program sponsor on how much to save. Other behavioral approaches to changing savings plan outcomes--including automatic enrollment, simplification, planning aids, reminders, and commitment features--potentially have a much greater impact on savings outcomes than do financial incentives, often at a much lower cost.

Suggested Citation

  • Brigitte C. Madrian, 2012. "Matching Contributions and Savings Outcomes: A Behavioral Economics Perspective," NBER Working Papers 18220, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18220
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Esther Duflo & William Gale & Jeffrey Liebman & Peter Orszag & Emmanuel Saez, 2006. "Saving Incentives for Low- and Middle-Income Families: Evidence from a Field Experiment with H&R Block," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1311-1346.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Renuka Sane & Susan Thomas, 2015. "In Search of Inclusion: Informal Sector Participation in a Voluntary, Defined Contribution Pension System," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(10), pages 1409-1424, October.
    2. Huck, Steffen & Rasul, Imran & Shephard, Andrew, 2012. "Comparing charitable fundraising schemes: Evidence from a field experiment and a structural model," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2012-303, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    3. repec:eee:eecrev:v:98:y:2017:i:c:p:32-48 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Steffen Huck & Imran Rasul & Andrew Shephard, 2015. "Comparing Charitable Fundraising Schemes: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment and a Structural Model," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 326-369, May.
    5. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Søren Leth-Petersen & Torben Heien Nielsen & Tore Olsen, 2014. "Active vs. Passive Decisions and Crowd-Out in Retirement Savings Accounts: Evidence from Denmark," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(3), pages 1141-1219.
    6. Anne-Marie Brook, 2014. "Options to Narrow New Zealand’s Saving – Investment Imbalance," Treasury Working Paper Series 14/17, New Zealand Treasury.
    7. Blumenstock, Joshua & Callen, Michael & Ghani, Tarek, 2016. "Mobile-izing Savings with Automatic Contributions: Experimental Evidence on Present Bias and Default Effects in Afghanistan," CEPR Discussion Papers 11400, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Ramnath, Shanthi, 2013. "Taxpayers' responses to tax-based incentives for retirement savings: Evidence from the Saver's Credit notch," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 77-93.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions

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