NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Pension Plan Characteristics and Framing Effects in Employee Savings Behavior

David Card, Michael Ransom

NBER Working Paper No. 13275
Issued in July 2007
NBER Program(s):   LS

In this paper we document the importance of framing effects in the retirement savings decisions of college professors. Pensions in many post-secondary institutions are funded by a combination of an employer contribution and a mandatory employee contribution. Employees can also make tax-deferred contributions to a supplemental savings account. A standard lifecycle savings model predicts a "dollar-for-dollar" tradeoff between supplemental savings and the combined regular pension contributions made on behalf of an employee. Contrary to this prediction, we estimate that each additional dollar of employee contributions leads to a 70 cent reduction in supplemental savings, whereas each dollar of employer contributions generates only a 30 cent reduction. The asymmetry - which is consistent with different "mental accounts" for employer and employee contributions - provides further evidence of the sensitivity of individual savings decisions to the precise details of their pension plan.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13275

Published: David Card & Michael Ransom, 2011. "Pension Plan Characteristics and Framing Effects in Employee Savings Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(1), pages 228-243, 08. citation courtesy of

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