Predicting Retirement Savings Using Survey Measures of Exponential-Growth Bias and Present Bias
65 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2018 Last revised: 21 Apr 2023
In a nationally-representative sample, we predict retirement savings using survey-based elicitations of exponential-growth bias (EGB) and present bias (PB). We find that EGB, the tendency to neglect compounding, and PB, the tendency to value the present over the future, are highly significant and economically meaningful predictors of retirement savings. These relationships hold controlling for cognitive ability, financial literacy, and a rich set of demographic controls. We address measurement error as a potential confound and explore mechanisms through which these biases may operate. Back of the envelope calculations suggest that eliminating EGB and PB would increase retirement savings by approximately 12 percent.
Keywords: survey-based elicitations, exponential-growth bias, present bias, financial literacy, quasi-hyperbolic discounting, retirement savings, household finance
JEL Classification: D91, J26, D14, D15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation