Experimental Design Details
Tentatively, the experiment will proceed as follows. The conditions will be revised/finalized in consultation with the implementing partner and based on a screening survey.
First, a screening survey will be fielded to identify (A) strata of eligible subjects (for example, those who have not started to plan for retirement versus those who have), (B) their reasons for falling within these strata (for example, their reason for being in that stage of retirement planning), and (C) other relevant types of heterogeneity.
Second, subjects will randomly be assigned to one of the following conditions:
(i) a treatment group that is exposed to an outreach intervention in which they are presented with retirement preparedness materials such as the mySocialSecurity statement and/or a retirement calculator; *** ADDED May 24, 2023 *** We have titled this “information only” condition Group B.
(ii) a treatment group that is exposed to the above plus (possibly hypothetical) “house money” funds (i.e., funds provided by the researchers, with varying stakes) which can be partitioned across (1) a retirement account, (2) a standard savings account, or (3) “cash” (a gift card). The allocation can be however they want, for example, they can choose to place all the funds in only one of these modes. The stakes of the house money might also be randomly varied; *** ADDED May 24, 2023 *** We have titled this “monetary” condition Group C.
(iii) a control group that will only complete pre- and post-surveys. At most, this control group will receive a placebo treatment. *** ADDED May 24, 2023 *** We have titled this “control” condition Group A.
Third, a random subset of subjects will receive a follow-up mailing or email ("nudge") with additional information about retirement planning.
*** ADDED May 24, 2023 ***
The experiment design has not changed significantly. The three conditions are still intact, with the following modifications:
First, Group A (control) will not receive a placebo treatment. They will only participate in surveys.
Second, Group B will receive four weeks of educational materials as well as some follow-up nudges.
Third, as before Group C will receive the same information as Group B PLUS a monetary windfall, that is, a random subset of participants will be chosen to receive an additional payout based on a decision they made during the study. This information will be communicated to them in the consent form (attached) and reiterated in the surveys (attached).