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Employee Financial Literacy and Retirement Plan Behavior: A Case Study

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  • Robert Clark
  • Annamaria Lusardi
  • Olivia S. Mitchell

Abstract

This paper uses administrative data on all active employees of the Federal Reserve System to examine participation in and contributions to the Thrift Saving Plan, the system’s defined contribution (DC) plan. We have appended to the administrative records a unique employee survey of economic/demographic factors including a set of financial literacy questions. Not surprisingly, Federal Reserve employees are more financially literate than the general population; furthermore, the most financially savvy are also most likely to participate in and contribute the most to their plan. Sophisticated workers contribute three percentage points more of their earnings to the DC plan than do the less knowledgeable, and they hold more equity in their pension accounts. Finally, we examine changes in employee plan behavior a year after the financial literacy survey and compare it to the baseline. We find that employees who completed an educational module were more likely to start contributing and less likely to have stopped contributing to the DC plan post-survey.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Clark & Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2015. "Employee Financial Literacy and Retirement Plan Behavior: A Case Study," NBER Working Papers 21461, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21461 Note: AG
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert L. Clark & Melinda Sandler Morrill & Steven G. Allen, 2012. "The Role Of Financial Literacy In Determining Retirement Plans," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(4), pages 851-866, October.
    2. 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, Southern Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 677-701, January.
    3. Cattaneo, Matias D., 2010. "Efficient semiparametric estimation of multi-valued treatment effects under ignorability," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 155(2), pages 138-154, April.
    4. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2014. "The Economic Importance of Financial Literacy: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 5-44.
    5. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2008. "Planning and Financial Literacy: How Do Women Fare?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 413-417.
    6. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S Mitchelli, 2007. "Financial Literacy and Retirement Preparedness: Evidence and Implications for Financial Education," Business Economics, Palgrave Macmillan;National Association for Business Economics, vol. 42(1), pages 35-44, January.
    7. Patrick J. Bayer & B. Douglas Bernheim & John Karl Scholz, 1996. "The Effects of Financial Education in the Workplace: Evidence from a Survey of Employers," Working Papers 96011, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
    8. Lusardi, Annamaria & Mitchell, Olivia S., 2011. "Financial literacy around the world: an overview," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(04), pages 497-508, October.
    9. Robert L. Clark & Melinda Sandler Morrill & Steven G. Allen, 2012. "Effectiveness of Employer-Provided Financial Information: Hiring to Retiring," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(3), pages 314-318, May.
    10. Patrick J. Bayer & B. Douglas Bernheim & John Karl Scholz, 2009. "The Effects Of Financial Education In The Workplace: Evidence From A Survey Of Employers," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 47(4), pages 605-624, October.
    11. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia Mitchell, 2006. "Financial Literacy and Retirement Preparedness: Evidence and Implications for Financial Education Programs," Working Papers wp144, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    12. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2017. "How Ordinary Consumers Make Complex Economic Decisions: Financial Literacy and Retirement Readiness," Quarterly Journal of Finance (QJF), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 7(03), pages 1-31, September.
    13. Curtis J. Simon & John T. Warner & Saul Pleeter, 2015. "Discounting, Cognition, And Financial Awareness: New Evidence From A Change In The Military Retirement System," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 53(1), pages 318-334, January.
    14. CLARK, ROBERT L. & d'AMBROSIO, MADELEINE B. & McDERMED, ANN A. & SAWANT, KSHAMA, 2006. "Retirement plans and saving decisions: the role of information and education," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(01), pages 45-67, March.
    15. Bernheim, B. Douglas & Garrett, Daniel M., 2003. "The effects of financial education in the workplace: evidence from a survey of households," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 1487-1519.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tim Kaiser & Lukas Menkhoff, 2017. "Does Financial Education Impact Financial Literacy and Financial Behavior, and If So, When?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 31(3), pages 611-630.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods

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