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Do Employer Pension Contributions Reflect Employee Preferences? Evidence from a Retirement Savings Reform in Denmark

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  • Itzik Fadlon
  • Jessica A. Laird
  • Torben Heien Nielsen

Abstract

This paper studies how firms set contributions to employer-provided 401(k)-type pension plans. Using a reform that decreased the subsidy for contributions to capital pension accounts for Danish workers in the top income tax bracket, we provide strong evidence that employers' contributions are based on their employees' savings preferences. We find an immediate decrease in employer contributions to capital accounts, whose magnitude increased in the share of employees directly affected by the reform. This response was large relative to average employee responses within private IRA-type plans and was accompanied by a similar-magnitude shift of employer contributions to annuity accounts.

Suggested Citation

  • Itzik Fadlon & Jessica A. Laird & Torben Heien Nielsen, 2015. "Do Employer Pension Contributions Reflect Employee Preferences? Evidence from a Retirement Savings Reform in Denmark," NBER Working Papers 21665, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21665
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre, 2011. "Myopia, redistribution and pensions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 165-175, February.
    2. Kerstin Roeder, 2014. "Optimal taxes and pensions with myopic agents," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 42(3), pages 597-618, March.
    3. Lusardi, Annamaria & Mitchell, Olivia S., 2007. "Baby Boomer retirement security: The roles of planning, financial literacy, and housing wealth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 205-224, January.
    4. Stephanie Aaronson & Julia Lynn Coronado, 2005. "Are firms or workers behind the shift away from DB pension plan?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-17, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US).
    5. Gabriel D. Carroll & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2009. "Optimal Defaults and Active Decisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1639-1674.
    6. 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.
    7. Paul Bingley & Nabanita Datta Gupta & Peder J. Pedersen, 2007. "Fiscal Implications of Reforms in Retirement Systems in Denmark," NBER Chapters,in: Social Security Programs and Retirement around the World: Fiscal Implications of Reform, pages 119-154 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    11. Marianne A. Hilgert & Jeanne M. Hogarth & Sondra G. Beverly, 2003. "Household financial management: the connection between knowledge and behavior," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Jul, pages 309-322.
    12. Mitchell, Olivia S, 1988. "Worker Knowledge of Pension Provisions," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(1), pages 21-39, January.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • 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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