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The Role of Information and Social Interactions in Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment

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  • Esther Duflo
  • Emmanuel Saez

Abstract

This paper analyzes a randomized experiment to shed light on the role of information and social interactions in employees' decisions to enroll in a Tax Deferred Account (TDA) retirement plan within a large university. The experiment encouraged a random sample of employees in a subset of departments to attend a benefits information fair organized by the university, by promising a monetary reward for attendance. The experiment more than tripled the attendance rate of these treated individuals (relative to controls), and doubled that of untreated individuals within departments where some individuals were treated. TDA enrollment 5 and 11 months after the fair was significantly higher in departments where some individuals were treated than in departments where nobody was treated. However, the effect on TDA enrollment is almost as large for individuals in treated departments who did not receive the encouragement as for those who did. We provide three interpretations, differential treatment effects, social network effects, and motivational reward effects, to account for these results.

Suggested Citation

  • Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2002. "The Role of Information and Social Interactions in Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," NBER Working Papers 8885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8885
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid

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