IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Nudging Timely Wage Reporting: Field Experimental Evidence from the United States Social Supplementary Income Program


  • C. Yiwei Zhang
  • Jeffrey Hemmeter
  • Judd B. Kessler
  • Robert D. Metcalfe
  • Robert Weathers


We study a large-scale (n=50,000) natural field experiment implemented by the U.S. Social Security Administration that was aimed at increasing the timely and accurate self-reporting of wages by Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients. Sending a letter reminding SSI recipients of their wage reporting responsibilities significantly increased both the likelihood of reporting any earnings and the total amount of earnings reported, though this effect decays slightly over time. However, the specific letter content—providing social information or highlighting the salience of penalties—had no systematic effect. We develop a conservative estimate that the letters generated roughly $5.91 in savings on average per dollar spent for the U.S. government.

Suggested Citation

  • C. Yiwei Zhang & Jeffrey Hemmeter & Judd B. Kessler & Robert D. Metcalfe & Robert Weathers, 2020. "Nudging Timely Wage Reporting: Field Experimental Evidence from the United States Social Supplementary Income Program," NBER Working Papers 27875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27875
    Note: PE

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Christopher J. O'Leary & Dallas Oberlee & Gabrielle Pepin, 2020. "Nudges to Increase Completion of Welfare Applications: Experimental Evidence from Michigan," Upjohn Working Papers 20-336, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    2. David Wittenburg & Gina Livermore, "undated". "Youth Transition," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 580ad612600842de83948d7ab, Mathematica Policy Research.
    3. Eugen Dimant & Shaul Shalvi, 2022. "Meta-Nudging Honesty: Past, Present, and Future of the Research Frontier," ECONtribute Discussion Papers Series 163, University of Bonn and University of Cologne, Germany.
    4. Denise Hoffman & Priyanka Anand & John Jones & Serge Lukashanets, "undated". "How Do Work-Related Overpayments Affect the Earnings of Overpaid Social Security Disability Insurance Beneficiaries?," Mathematica Policy Research Reports bc1e2ba7f8644c75a19020f06, Mathematica Policy Research.
    5. Moffitt, Robert & Gregory, Jesse, 2022. "The Return to Work in Disablity Programs: What Has Been Learned and Next Steps," Economics Working Paper Archive 66933, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
    6. Priyanka Anand & Denise Hoffman & John T. Jones & Siarhei Lukashanets, 2022. "Labor supply response to overpayment notifications: Evidence from Social Security Disability Insurance," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(2), pages 304-322, April.
    7. Denise Hoffman & Monica Farid & Serge Lukashanets & Michael Anderson & John T. Jones, "undated". "Work Overpayments Among New Social Security Disability Insurance Beneficiaries," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 2ab65f780a7247ec8d8a61ca8, Mathematica Policy Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D04 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Policy: Formulation; Implementation; Evaluation
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27875. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: the person in charge (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.