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Matching Contributions and Savings Outcomes: A Behavioral Economics Perspective

  • Brigitte C. Madrian

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w18220.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18220.

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Date of creation: Jul 2012
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Publication status: published as Matching Contributions and Savings Outcomes: A Behavioral Economics Perspective Authors/Editors: Brigitte C. Madrian Matching Contributions for Pensions Published: October 2012 Pages: 289 - 309 http://dx.doi.org/10.1596/9780821394922_CH15
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18220
Note: AG EFG LS PE
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  1. Beshears, John & Choi, James J. & Laibson, David & Madrian, Brigitte C., 2011. "Behavioral Economics Perspectives on Public Sector Pension Plans," Working Paper Series 11-013, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  2. Gary V. Engelhardt & Anil Kumar, 2004. "Employer Matching and 401(k) Saving: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College 2004-18, Center for Retirement Research.
  3. William F. Bassett & Michael J. Fleming & Anthony P. Rodrigues, 1998. "How workers use 401(k) plans: the participation, contribution, and withdrawal decisions," Staff Reports 38, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  4. Beshears, John & Choi, James J. & Laibson, David & Madrian, Brigitte C., 2013. "Simplification and saving," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 130-145.
  5. Robinson, Jonathan & Dupas, Pascaline, 2009. "Savings Constraints and Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt34w0w53t, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  6. Pascaline Dupas & Jonathan Robinson, 2011. "Why Don't the Poor Save More? Evidence from Health Savings Experiments," NBER Working Papers 17255, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Emmanuel Saez & Esther Duflo & Jeffrey Liebman & Peter Orszag & William Gale, 2005. "Saving incentives for low- and middle-income families: Evidence from a field experiment with h&r block," Framed Field Experiments 00234, The Field Experiments Website.
  8. Dean Karlan & Sendhil Mullainathan & Margaret McConnell & Jonathan Zinman, 2010. "Getting to theTop of Mind: How Reminders Increase Saving," Working Papers id:2587, eSocialSciences.
  9. Brune, Lasse & Gine, Xavier & Goldberg, Jessica & Yang, Dean, 2011. "Commitments to save : a field experiment in rural Malawi," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5748, The World Bank.
  10. Nava Ashraf & Diego Aycinena & Claudia Martínez & Dean Yang, 2011. "Remittances and the Problem of Control: A Field Experiment Among Migrants from El Salvador," Working Papers wp341, University of Chile, Department of Economics.
  11. Felipe Kast & Stephan Meier & Dina Pomeranz, 2012. "Under-Savers Anonymous: Evidence on Self-Help Groups and Peer Pressure as a Savings Commitment Device," NBER Working Papers 18417, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Nava Ashraf & Dean S. Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2005. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence from a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," Working Papers 917, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  13. Mills, Gregory & Gale, William G. & Patterson, Rhiannon & Engelhardt, Gary V. & Eriksen, Michael D. & Apostolov, Emil, 2008. "Effects of individual development accounts on asset purchases and saving behavior: Evidence from a controlled experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1509-1530, June.
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