NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
loading...

Using Vignettes to Improve Understanding of Social Security and Annuities

Anya Samek, Arie Kapteyn, Andre Gray

NBER Working Paper No. 26176
Issued in August 2019
NBER Program(s):Program on the Economics of Aging

Evidence shows that people have difficulty understanding complex aspects of retirement planning, which leads them to under-utilize annuities and claim Social Security benefits earlier than is optimal. To target this problem, we developed vignettes about the consequences of different annuitization and claiming decisions. We evaluated our vignettes using an experiment with a representative online panel of nearly 2,000 Americans. In our experiment, respondents were either assigned to a control group with no vignette, to a written vignette, or to a video vignette. They were then asked to give advice to hypothetical persons on annuitization or Social Security claiming, and were asked factual questions about these concepts. We found evidence that being exposed to vignettes led respondents to give better advice. For example, the gap between advised claim age for a relatively healthy person versus a relatively sick person was larger by nearly a year in the vignette treatments versus the control group. Further, the vignettes increased financial literacy related to these concepts by 10-15 percentage points. Interestingly, the mode of communication did not have a significant impact – the video and written vignettes were equally effective.

download in pdf format
   (1529 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26176

 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

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

Contact Us