Incorporating Employee Heterogeneity into Default Rules for Retirement Plan Selection
48 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2010 Last revised: 8 Jul 2010
Date Written: July 2010
We study the effect of incorporating heterogeneity into default rules by examining the choice between retirement plans at a firm which transitioned from a defined benefit (DB) to a defined contribution (DC) plan. The default plan for existing employees varied discontinuously depending on their age. Employing regression discontinuity techniques, we find that the default increased the probability of enrollment in the default plan by 60 percentage points. We develop a framework to solve for the optimal default rule analytically and numerically and find that considerable welfare gains are possible if defaults vary by observable characteristics.
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