Columbia Business School
New York, NY 10027
NBER Program Affiliations:
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|March 2018||The Retirement-Consumption Puzzle: New Evidence from Personal Finances|
with Arna Olafsson: w24405
This paper uses a detailed panel of individual spending, income, account balances, and credit limits from a personal finance management software provider to investigate how expenditures, liquid savings, and consumer debt change around retirement. The longitudinal nature of our data allows us to estimate individual fixed-effects regressions and thereby control for all selection on time-invariant (un)observables. We provide new evidence on the retirement-consumption puzzle and on whether individuals save adequately for retirement. We find that, upon retirement, individuals reduce their spending in both work-related and leisure categories. However, we feel that it is difficult to tell conclusively whether expenses are work related or not, even with the best data. We thus look at household fin...
|November 2017||Fresh Air Eases Work – The Effect of Air Quality on Individual Investor Activity|
with Steffen Meyer: w24048
This paper shows that air quality has a significantly negative effect on the likelihood of individual investors to sit down, log in, and trade in their brokerage accounts controlling for investor-, weather-, traffic-, and market-specific factors. In perspective, a one standard deviation increase in fine particulate matter leads to the same reduction in the probability of logging in and trading as a one standard deviation increase in sunshine. We document this effect for low levels of pollution that are commonly found throughout the developed world. As individual investor trading can be a proxy for everyday cognitively-demanding tasks such as office work, our findings suggest that the negative effects of pollution on white-collar work productivity are much more severe than previously though...
|October 2017||The Ostrich in Us: Selective Attention to Financial Accounts, Income, Spending, and Liquidity|
with Arna Olafsson: w23945
A number of theoretical research papers in micro as well as macroeconomics model and analyze attention but direct empirical evidence remains scarce. This paper investigates the determinants of attention to financial accounts using panel data from a financial management software provider containing daily logins, discretionary spending, income, balances, and credit limits. We find that individuals are considerably more likely to log in because they get paid utilizing exogenous variation in paydays due to weekends and holidays. Beyond looking at the causal effect of income on attention, we examine how attention depends on individual spending, balances, and credit limits within individuals’ own histories. We find that attention is decreasing in spending and overdrafts and increasing in cash ho...
|September 2017||FinTech Adoption Across Generations: Financial Fitness in the Information Age|
with Bruce Carlin, Arna Olafsson: w23798
This paper analyzes how better access to financial information via new technology changes use of consumer credit and affects financial fitness. We exploit the introduction of a smartphone application for personal financial management as a source of exogenous variation. FinTech adoption reduces financial fee payments and penalties, but differs cross-sectionally in the population. After adopting the new technology, Millennials and members of Generation X incur fewer financial fees and penalties, whereas Baby Boomers do not benefit from the technological advance. Millennials and Gen Xers save fees by using their credit cards rather than overdrafts to manage short-term liabilities. Moreover, Millennials shift some of their spending to discretionary entertainment, whereas members of Generation ...