Reinforcement Learning and Savings Behavior

33 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2007

See all articles by James J. Choi

James J. Choi

Yale School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

David Laibson

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Brigitte C. Madrian

Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Andrew Metrick

Yale School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Yale University - Yale Program on Financial Stability

Date Written: September 14, 2007

Abstract

We show that individual investors over-extrapolate from their personal experience when making savings decisions. Investors who experience particularly rewarding outcomes from saving in their 401(k)-a high average and/or low variance return-increase their 401(k) savings rate more than investors who have less rewarding experiences with saving. This finding is not driven by aggregate time-series shocks, income effects, rational learning about investing skill, investor fixed effects, or time-varying investor-level heterogeneity that is correlated with portfolio allocations to stock, bond, and cash asset classes. We discuss implications for the equity premium puzzle and interventions aimed at improving household financial outcomes.

Suggested Citation

Choi, James J. and Laibson, David I. and Madrian, Brigitte C. and Metrick, Andrew, Reinforcement Learning and Savings Behavior (September 14, 2007). Yale ICF Working Paper No. 09-01; Journal of Finance, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1014655

James J. Choi

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
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David I. Laibson

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Room M-14
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-3402 (Phone)
617-495-8570 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Brigitte C. Madrian

Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business ( email )

Provo, UT 84602
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Andrew Metrick (Contact Author)

Yale School of Management ( email )

165 Whitney Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
United States
(203)-432-3069 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.som.yale.edu/andrewmetrick/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Yale University - Yale Program on Financial Stability

165 Whitney Avenue
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

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