Simplification and Saving

23 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2008

See all articles by John Beshears

John Beshears

Harvard Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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)

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Abstract

Many financial decisions that individuals face are complicated and daunting for those who are not financial experts. One important consequence of this complexity is that individuals procrastinate in making these decisions. In this paper, we evaluate a low-cost intervention designed to simplify the retirement saving decision. Individuals received the opportunity to enroll in their workplace savings plan at a pre-selected contribution rate and asset allocation. By collapsing a multidimensional set of options into a binary choice between the status quo and the pre-selected alternative, this intervention increases participation rates by 10 to 20 percentage points among affected employees. We find that similar mechanisms can be used to increase contribution rates among employees who are already participating.

Keywords: retirement savings, asset allocation, 401(k)

Suggested Citation

Beshears, John and Choi, James J. and Laibson, David I. and Madrian, Brigitte C., Simplification and Saving. Yale ICF Working Paper No. 08-07. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1086462

John Beshears (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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James J. Choi

Yale School of Management ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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David I. Laibson

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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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

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