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Framing Effects and Expected Social Security Claiming Behavior

  • Jeffrey R. Brown
  • Arie Kapteyn
  • Olivia S. Mitchell

Eligible participants in the U.S. Social Security system may claim benefits anytime from age 62-70, with benefit levels actuarially adjusted based on the claiming age. This paper shows that individual intentions with regard to Social Security claiming ages are sensitive to how the early versus late claiming decision is framed. Using an experimental design, the authors find that the use of a "break-even analysis" has the very strong effect of encouraging individuals to claim early. They also show that individuals are more likely to report they will delay claiming when later claiming is framed as a gain, and when the information provides an anchoring point at older, rather than younger, ages. Moreover, females, individuals with credit card debt, and workers with lower expected benefits are more strongly influenced by framing. They conclude that some individuals may not make fully rational optimizing choices when it comes to choosing a claiming date.

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File URL: http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/working_papers/2011/RAND_WR854.pdf
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Paper provided by RAND Corporation Publications Department in its series Working Papers with number 854.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ran:wpaper:854
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  1. Jeffrey R. Brown & Jeffrey R. Kling & Sendhil Mullainathan & Marian V. Wrobel, 2008. "Why Don’t People Insure Late-Life Consumption? A Framing Explanation of the Under-Annuitization Puzzle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 304-09, May.
  2. Hugo Benitez-Silva & Frank Heiland, 2005. "Early Claiming of Social Security Benefits and Labor Supply Behavior of Older Americans," Department of Economics Working Papers 05-05, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
  3. Julie R. Agnew & Lisa R. Anderson & Jeffrey R. Gerlach & Lisa R. Szykman, 2008. "Who Chooses Annuities? An Experimental Investigation of the Role of Gender, Framing, and Defaults," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 418-22, May.
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