NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Small Cues Change Savings Choices

James J. Choi, Emily Haisley, Jennifer Kurkoski, Cade Massey

NBER Working Paper No. 17843
Issued in February 2012
NBER Program(s):   AG   AP   PE

In randomized field experiments, we embedded one- to two-sentence anchoring, goal-setting, or savings threshold cues in emails to employees about their 401(k) savings plan. We find that anchors increase or decrease 401(k) contribution rates by up to 1.9% of income. A high savings goal example raises contribution rates by up to 2.2% of income. Highlighting a higher savings threshold in the match incentive structure raises contributions by up to 1.5% of income relative to highlighting the lower threshold. Highlighting the maximum possible contribution rate raises contribution rates by up to 2.9% of income among low savers.

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This paper was revised on June 29, 2012

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17843

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