NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Do Employer Pension Contributions Reflect Employee Preferences? Evidence from a Retirement Savings Reform in Denmark

Itzik Fadlon, Jessica A. Laird, Torben Heien Nielsen

NBER Working Paper No. 21665
Issued in October 2015
NBER Program(s):Aging, Labor Studies, Public Economics

This paper studies how firms set contributions to employer-provided 401(k)-type pension plans. Using a reform that decreased the subsidy for contributions to capital pension accounts for Danish workers in the top income tax bracket, we provide strong evidence that employers' contributions are based on their employees' savings preferences. We find an immediate decrease in employer contributions to capital accounts, whose magnitude increased in the share of employees directly affected by the reform. This response was large relative to average employee responses within private IRA-type plans and was accompanied by a similar-magnitude shift of employer contributions to annuity accounts.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21665

Published: Itzik Fadlon & Jessica Laird & Torben Heien Nielsen, 2016. "Do Employer Pension Contributions Reflect Employee Preferences? Evidence from a Retirement Savings Reform in Denmark," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, vol 8(3), pages 196-216. citation courtesy of

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