NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Ellen Magenheim

Swarthmore College
Department of Economics
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081-1397

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: Swarthmore College

NBER Working Papers and Publications

June 2020Is Attention Produced Rationally?
with Erin T. Bronchetti, Judd B. Kessler, Dmitry Taubinsky, Eric Zwick: w27443
A large and growing literature shows that attention-increasing interventions, such as reminders and planning prompts, can promote important behaviors. This paper develops a method to investigate whether people value attention-increasing tools rationally. We characterize how the demand for attention improvements must vary with the pecuniary incentive to be attentive and develop quantitative tests of rational inattention that we deploy in two experiments. The first is an experiment with an online education platform run in the field (n=1,373), in which we randomize incentives to complete course modules and incentives to make plans to complete the modules. The second is an online survey-completion experiment (n=944), in which we randomize incentives to complete a survey three weeks later and t...
March 2011When a Nudge Isn't Enough: Defaults and Saving Among Low-Income Tax Filers
with Erin Todd Bronchetti, Thomas S. Dee, David B. Huffman: w16887
Recent evidence suggests that the default options implicit in economic choices (e.g., 401(k) savings by white-collar workers) have extraordinarily large effects on decision-making. This study presents a field experiment that evaluates the effect of defaults on savings among a highly policy-relevant population: low-income tax filers. In the control condition, tax filers could choose (i.e., opt in) to receive some of their federal tax refund in the form of U.S. Savings Bonds. In the treatment condition, a fraction of the tax refund was automatically directed to U.S. Savings Bonds unless tax filers actively chose another allocation. We find that the opt-out default had no impact on savings behavior. Furthermore, our treatment estimate is sufficiently precise to reject effects as small as one-...

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