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Decision-Making Approaches and the Propensity to Default: Evidence and Implications

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  • Jeffrey R. Brown
  • Anne M. Farrell
  • Scott J. Weisbenner

Abstract

This paper examines heterogeneity in the responsiveness to default options in a large state retirement plan, focusing on individuals’ decision-making approaches as well as their economic and demographic characteristics. Using a survey of plan participants, we find that procrastination and the need for cognitive closure are important determinants of the likelihood of default. We also explore an important implication of defaulting – individuals who default are significantly more likely to subsequently express a desire to enroll in a different plan. The desire to change plans is also correlated with numerous economic and decision-making characteristics, including procrastination.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey R. Brown & Anne M. Farrell & Scott J. Weisbenner, 2015. "Decision-Making Approaches and the Propensity to Default: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 20949, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20949
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    Cited by:

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    2. Clark, Robert L. & Hanson, Emma & Mitchell, Olivia S., 2016. "Lessons for public pensions from Utah's move to pension choice," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(3), pages 285-310, July.
    3. Keane, M.P. & Thorp, S., 2016. "Complex Decision Making," 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 661-709, Elsevier.
    4. Sonia Buchholtz & Jan Gąska & Marek Góra, 2021. "Myopic Savings Behaviour of Future Polish Pensioners," Risks, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(2), pages 1-19, February.
    5. Ghesla, Claus & Grieder, Manuel & Schubert, Renate, 2020. "Nudging the poor and the rich – A field study on the distributional effects of green electricity defaults," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(C).
    6. Robert Dur & Dimitry Fleming & Marten van Garderen & Max van Lent, 2019. "A Social Norm Nudge to Save More: A Field Experiment at a Retail Bank," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 19-063/I, Tinbergen Institute.
    7. Gerhard, Patrick & Hoffmann, Arvid O.I. & Post, Thomas, 2017. "Past performance framing and investors’ belief updating: Is seeing long-term returns always associated with smaller belief updates?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(C), pages 38-51.
    8. Robert L. Clark & Robert G. Hammond & Christelle Khalaf, 2019. "Planning for Retirement? The Importance of Time Preferences," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 127-150, June.
    9. Butt, Adam & Donald, M. Scott & Foster, F. Douglas & Thorp, Susan & Warren, Geoffrey J., 2018. "One size fits all? Tailoring retirement plan defaults," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 546-566.
    10. Joshua Blumenstock & Michael Callen & Tarek Ghani, 2018. "Why Do Defaults Affect Behavior? Experimental Evidence from Afghanistan," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(10), pages 2868-2901, October.
    11. Gomes, Francisco J & Haliassos, Michael & Ramadorai, Tarun, 2020. "Household Finance," CEPR Discussion Papers 14502, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Michael P. Keane & Susan Thorp, 2016. "Complex Decision Making: The Roles of Cognitive Limitations, Cognitive Decline and Ageing," Economics Papers 2016-W10, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    13. Lyubimov, Ivan L. (Любимов, Иван) & Kazakova, Maria V. (Казакова, Мария), 2017. "The Demand for Production Inputs as the Reflection of the Level of Property Rights Protection [Структура Спроса На Факторы Производства Как Отражение Защищенности Прав Собственности]," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 4, pages 30-59, August.
    14. Buchholtz, Sonia & Gaska, Jan & Góra, Marek, 2018. "Pension Strategies of Workers in a Country Getting Old before Getting Rich," IZA Discussion Papers 11830, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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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
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions

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