Employee Financial Literacy and Retirement Plan Behavior: A Case Study

Robert Clark, Annamaria Lusardi, Olivia S. Mitchell

NBER Working Paper No. 21461
Issued in August 2015
NBER Program(s):Aging

This paper uses administrative data on all active employees of the Federal Reserve System to examine participation in and contributions to the Thrift Saving Plan, the system’s defined contribution (DC) plan. We have appended to the administrative records a unique employee survey of economic/demographic factors including a set of financial literacy questions. Not surprisingly, Federal Reserve employees are more financially literate than the general population; furthermore, the most financially savvy are also most likely to participate in and contribute the most to their plan. Sophisticated workers contribute three percentage points more of their earnings to the DC plan than do the less knowledgeable, and they hold more equity in their pension accounts. Finally, we examine changes in employee plan behavior a year after the financial literacy survey and compare it to the baseline. We find that employees who completed an educational module were more likely to start contributing and less likely to have stopped contributing to the DC plan post-survey.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21461

Published: Robert Clark & Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2017. "Employee Financial Literacy And Retirement Plan Behavior: A Case Study," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(1), pages 248-259, January. citation courtesy of

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