Five Steps to Planning Success. Experimental Evidence from U.S. Households
45 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2015
Date Written: May 31, 2014
In this paper, we design and field a low-cost, easily-replicable financial education program called “Five Steps,” covering five basic financial planning concepts that relate to retirement. We conduct a field experiment to evaluate the overall impact of “Five Steps” on a probability sample of the American population. In different treatment arms, we quantify the relative impact of delivering the program through video and narrative formats. Our results show that short videos and narratives (each takes about three minutes) have sizable short-run effects on objective measures of respondent knowledge. Moreover, keeping informational content relatively constant, format has significant effects on other psychological levers of behavioral change: effects on motivation and self-efficacy are significantly higher when videos are used, which ultimately influences knowledge acquisition. Follow-up tests of respondents’ knowledge approximately eight months after the interventions suggest that between one-quarter and one-third of the knowledge gain and about one-fifth of the self-efficacy gains persist. Thus, this simple program has effects both in the short run and medium run.
Keywords: financial education, financial planning
JEL Classification: D14, D91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation