Monday, September 13, 2010

Simplifying to reduce financial procrastination

The daunting complexity of important financial decisions can lead to procrastination. We evaluate a low-cost intervention that substantially simplifies the retirement savings plan participation decision. Individuals received an opportunity to enroll in a retirement savings plan at a pre-selected contribution rate and asset allocation, allowing them to collapse a multidimensional problem into a binary choice between the status quo and the pre-selected alternative. The intervention increases plan enrollment rates by 10 to 20 percentage points. We find that a similar intervention can be used to increase contribution rates among employees who are already participating in a savings plan.
--Beshears, Choi, Laibson, and Madrian, "Simplification and Saving," on how you can help people do important things promptly

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