Limited and Varying Consumer Attention: Evidence from Shocks to the Salience of Bank Overdraft Fees

64 Pages Posted: 9 May 2011 Last revised: 13 Jul 2023

See all articles by Victor Stango

Victor Stango

UC Davis Graduate School of Management

Jonathan Zinman

Dartmouth College; Innovations for Poverty Action; Jameel Poverty Action Lab; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 2011

Abstract

We explore dynamics of limited attention in the $35 billion market for checking overdrafts, using survey content as shocks to the salience of overdraft fees. Conditional on selection into surveys, individuals who face overdraft-related questions are less likely to incur a fee in the survey month. Taking multiple overdraft surveys builds a "stock" of attention that reduces overdrafts for up to two years. The effects are significant among consumers with lower education and financial literacy. Individuals avoid overdrafts by making fewer low-balance debit transactions and cancelling automatic recurring withdrawals. The results raise new questions about consumer financial protection policy.

Suggested Citation

Stango, Victor and Zinman, Jonathan, Limited and Varying Consumer Attention: Evidence from Shocks to the Salience of Bank Overdraft Fees (May 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w17028, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1833165

Victor Stango (Contact Author)

UC Davis Graduate School of Management ( email )

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Jonathan Zinman

Dartmouth College ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603-646-0075 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.dartmouth.edu/jzinman/

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