NBER Publications by Torben Heien Nielsen

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Working Papers and Chapters

July 2015Household Responses to Severe Health Shocks and the Design of Social Insurance
with Itzik Fadlon: w21352
This paper studies how households respond to severe health shocks and the insurance role of spousal labor supply. In the empirical part of the paper, we provide new evidence on individuals' labor supply responses to spousal health and mortality shocks. Analyzing administrative data on over 500,000 Danish households in which a spouse dies, we find that survivors immediately increase their labor supply and that this effect is entirely driven by those who experience significant income losses due to the shock. Notably, widows – who experience large income losses when their husbands die – increase their labor force participation by more than 11%, while widowers – who are significantly more financially stable – decrease their labor supply. In contrast, studying over 70,000 households in which a ...
November 2012Active vs. Passive Decisions and Crowdout in Retirement Savings Accounts: Evidence from Denmark
with Raj Chetty, John N. Friedman, Soren Leth-Petersen, Tore Olsen: w18565
Using 41 million observations on savings for the population of Denmark, we show that the impacts of retirement savings policies on wealth accumulation depend on whether they change savings rates by active or passive choice. Subsidies for retirement accounts, which rely upon individuals to take an action to raise savings, primarily induce individuals to shift assets from taxable accounts to retirement accounts. We estimate that each $1 of government expenditure on subsidies increases total saving by only 1 cent. In contrast, policies that raise retirement contributions if individuals take no action - such as automatic employer contributions to retirement accounts - increase wealth accumulation substantially. We estimate that approximately 15% of individuals are "active savers" who respond t...

Published: Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Søren Leth-Petersen & Torben Heien Nielsen & Tore Olsen, 2014. "Active vs. Passive Decisions and Crowd-Out in Retirement Savings Accounts: Evidence from Denmark," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(3), pages 1141-1219. citation courtesy of

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