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Participation and Investment Decisions in a Retirement Plan: The Influence of Colleagues' Choices

  • Esther Duflo
  • Emmanuel Saez

This paper investigates whether peer effects play an important role in retirement savings decisions. We use individual data from the staff of a university to study whether individual decisions to enroll in a Tax Deferred Account plan sponsored by the university (and the choice of the mutual fund vendor for people who choose to enroll) are affected by the decisions of other employees in the same department. To overcome the identification problems, we separate the departments into sub-groups (along gender, status, age, and tenure lines) and we instrument the average participation of each peer group by the salary or tenure structure in this group. Our results suggest that peer effects are important. We find significant own-group peer effect on participation and on vendor's choice, but no cross-group peer effects.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7735.

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Date of creation: Jun 2000
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Publication status: published as Duflo, Esther and Emmanuel Saez. "Participation And Investment Decisions In A Retirement Plan: The Influence Of Colleagues' Choices," Journal of Public Economics, 2002, v85(1,Jul), 121-148.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7735
Note: AG PE
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  1. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2000. "The Power of Suggestion: Inertia in 401(k) Participation and Savings Behavior," NBER Working Papers 7682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  10. B. Douglas Bernheim & Daniel M. Garrett, 1996. "The Determinants and Consequences of Financial Education in the Workplace: Evidence from a Survey of Households," Working Papers 96007, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
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  13. Bruce Sacerdote, 2000. "Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates," NBER Working Papers 7469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Bernheim, B. Douglas, 2002. "Taxation and saving," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 18, pages 1173-1249 Elsevier.
  15. Case, A.C. & Katz, L.F., 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects Of Family And Neighborhood On Disadvantaged Younths," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1555, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  16. Ahn, Hyungtaik & Powell, James L., 1993. "Semiparametric estimation of censored selection models with a nonparametric selection mechanism," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1-2), pages 3-29, July.
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  18. Andrea L. Kusko & James M. Poterba & David W. Wilcox, 1994. "Employee Decisions with Respect to 401(k) Plans: Evidence From Individual-Level Data," NBER Working Papers 4635, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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