NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Effect of Providing Peer Information on Retirement Savings Decisions

John Beshears, James J. Choi, David Laibson, Brigitte C. Madrian, Katherine L. Milkman

NBER Working Paper No. 17345
Issued in August 2011
NBER Program(s):   AG   LS

We conducted a field experiment in a 401(k) plan to measure the effect of disseminating information about peer behavior on savings. Low-saving employees received simplified plan enrollment or contribution increase forms. A randomized subset of forms stated the fraction of age-matched coworkers participating in the plan or age-matched participants contributing at least 6% of pay to the plan. We document an oppositional reaction: the presence of peer information decreased the savings of non-participants who were ineligible for 401(k) automatic enrollment, and higher observed peer savings rates also decreased savings. Discouragement from upward social comparisons seems to drive this reaction.

download in pdf format
   (1860 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

This paper is available as PDF (1860 K) or via email.

A data appendix is available at http://www.nber.org/data-appendix/w17345/

This paper was revised on August 7, 2014

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17345

Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Beshears, Choi, Laibson, and Madrian The Importance of Default Options for Retirement Saving Outcomes: Evidence from the United States
Bursztyn, Ederer, Ferman, and Yuchtman w18241 Understanding Peer Effects in Financial Decisions: Evidence from a Field Experiment
Lusardi and Mitchell w17078 Financial Literacy and Planning: Implications for Retirement Wellbeing
Karlan, McConnell, Mullainathan, and Zinman w16205 Getting to the Top of Mind: How Reminders Increase Saving
Milkman, Beshears, Choi, Laibson, and Madrian w17995 Following Through on Good Intentions: The Power of Planning Prompts
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us