NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Katherine L. Milkman

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Working Papers

April 2012Following Through on Good Intentions: The Power of Planning Prompts
with John Beshears, James J. Choi, David Laibson, Brigitte C. Madrian: w17995
We study whether prompts to form and recall a plan can increase individuals’ responsiveness to reminders to make and attend beneficial appointments. At four companies, all employees due for a colonoscopy were randomly assigned to receive either a control mailing or a treatment mailing. The mailings were identical except that the control mailing included a blank sticky note while the treatment mailing included a sticky note that prompted the recipient to write down the appointment date for a colonoscopy and the name of the doctor who would conduct the procedure. During the seven-month follow-up period, 7.2% of treatment employees received a colonoscopy compared to 6.2% of control employees, a statistically significant difference that is roughly equal to the variation in compliance associate...
August 2011The Effect of Providing Peer Information on Retirement Savings Decisions
with John Beshears, James J. Choi, David Laibson, Brigitte C. Madrian: w17345
We measure how receiving information about coworkers’ savings behavior affects recipients’ savings choices. Low-saving employees were sent a simplified 401(k) plan enrollment or contribution increase form. A randomized subset of forms included information on the (high) fraction of coworkers either participating in or contributing at least 6% of pay to the plan. We document an oppositional reaction: peer information decreased the savings of (unionized) recipients who were not eligible for automatic enrollment in the 401(k). We find no significant evidence that peer information altered the savings decisions of recipients who had previously opted out of automatic 401(k) enrollment.
June 2011Using Implementation Intentions Prompts to Enhance Influenza Vaccination Rates
with John Beshears, James J. Choi, David Laibson, Brigitte C. Madrian: w17183
We evaluate the results of a field experiment designed to measure the effect of prompts to form implementation intentions on realized behavioral outcomes. The outcome of interest is influenza vaccination receipt at free on-site clinics offered by a large firm to its employees. All employees eligible for study participation received reminder mailings that listed the times and locations of the relevant vaccination clinics. Mailings to employees randomly assigned to the treatment conditions additionally included a prompt to write down either (1) the date the employee planned to be vaccinated or (2) the date and time the employee planned to be vaccinated. Vaccination rates increased when these implementation intentions prompts were included in the mailing. The vaccination rate among control co...

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