Can Informational Interventions Be Effective Policy Tools? An Initial Assessment of the Social Security Statement

Social Security Bulletin. 80(4): 1-22, 2020

22 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2021

See all articles by Barbara A. Smith

Barbara A. Smith

Government of the United States of America, Social Security Administration, Office of Retirement Policy

Date Written: November 05, 2020

Abstract

To inform workers about potential future Social Security benefits, the Social Security Administration employs an informational intervention: mailing Social Security Statements. In this article, the author uses linear probability models and agency administrative data to analyze a behavioral effect of Statement receipt; specifically, its effect on the age at which workers claim their retirement benefits. Results for individuals who received one Statement mailing by age 62 are compared with those for individuals who received multiple mailings, and with those who received none, during the 1975–2007 study period. Workers who received multiple Statements were found to be significantly more likely to claim retirement benefits at later ages than were other workers, and Statement receipt was positively associated with employment at ages 62–70. The author also compares the relative effects of an educational outreach (in the form of Statement mailings) and a direct policy change (involving the full retirement age) on claiming behavior and finds that the magnitudes of the two effects are similar.

Keywords: Social Security Statement, Retirement, Social Security, public knowledge, informational intervention

JEL Classification: G53, H55, J26

Suggested Citation

Smith, Barbara A., Can Informational Interventions Be Effective Policy Tools? An Initial Assessment of the Social Security Statement (November 05, 2020). Social Security Bulletin. 80(4): 1-22, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3731648

Barbara A. Smith (Contact Author)

Government of the United States of America, Social Security Administration, Office of Retirement Policy ( email )

500 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20254
United States

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