How Do Retirement Income Tools Affect Saving Decisions? Evidence from a Field Experiment
Last registered on August 31, 2018

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
How Do Retirement Income Tools Affect Saving Decisions? Evidence from a Field Experiment
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0002129
Initial registration date
March 28, 2017
Last updated
August 31, 2018 4:20 PM EDT
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Stanford University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Minnesota
PI Affiliation
Stanford University & NBER
PI Affiliation
Claremont Graduate University
PI Affiliation
University of Minnesota & IZA
PI Affiliation
London School of Economics
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2017-03-29
End date
2019-06-01
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Theory predicts that exponential-growth bias, the tendency to neglect compounding interest, will lead to suboptimal saving decisions. In previous work, we show that this bias is prevalent and explains a meaningful amount of heterogeneity in retirement wealth accumulation. In this project, we aim to investigate an intervention meant to target this bias via a field experiment at a large employer. Our results will provide evidence as to whether this intervention affects retirement savings through the hypothesized mechanism by analyzing the heterogeneity in responses with respect to underlying measures of exponential-growth bias. These interventions could serve as an important proof of concept for future interventions that lead individuals to make better-informed retirement saving decisions.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Goda, Gopi et al. 2018. "How Do Retirement Income Tools Affect Saving Decisions? Evidence from a Field Experiment." AEA RCT Registry. August 31. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2129/history/33747
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
1. Group I: Goals only in time 1, goals + treatment in time 2
a. Group I-A:
i. Time 1: Receive link to goals only tool, receive reminder at week 1 and week 2
ii. Time 2: receive link to goals + projections tools, reminder at week 1 and week 2

b. Group I-B:
i. Time 1: Receive link to goals only tool, receive reminder at week 1 and week 2
ii. Time 2: receive link to goals + projections + cost of delay tool, reminder at week 1 and week 2

2. Group II: goals + treatment in time 1
a. Group II-A
i. Time 1: Receive link to goals + projections tools, reminder at week 1 and week 2

b. Group II-B
i. Time 1: Receive links to goals + projections + cost of delay tool, reminder at week 1 and week 2
Intervention Start Date
2017-05-01
Intervention End Date
2018-07-01
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
retirement plan contributions, absolute value of change in retirement plan contributions, binary indicator of accessing retirement tool, binary indicator of making any change in retirement plan contributions, difference between Goal and Plan (measure of "intended" change), binary indicator of visiting last page in tool, total time spent on tool, exit tool to Employee Express, clicked on "Print" on tool
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
retirement plan contributions will be measured by both percent of salary and total dollars; all outcomes taken from administrative data on a bi-monthly basis
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We will merge together administrative data on employee retirement savings plan contributions, HR records, and survey data. The survey will ask subjects about basic demographics that are missing from the administrative data. In addition, the survey will elicit employees’ EGB and time preferences using un-incentivized questions. The survey will take approximately 15 minutes. Our administrative data on retirement contributions will span several months before and after our interventions, and will be collected on a high frequency basis (monthly prior to the intervention, and every pay period thereafter).

The experiment will have four groups, following a staggered rollout design. Groups I-A and I-B receive the Goals Only treatment as a placebo at Time 1, and will get either the Goals + Projections (I-A) or the Goals + Projections + Cost of Delay treatment at Time 2, approximately two months later. Groups II-A and II-B receive the Goals + Projections (II-A) or the Goals + Projections + Cost of Delay (II-B) treatment in period 1.

The Goals + Projections + Cost of Delay tool includes a prompt for individuals to think about their retirement lifestyle goals, an interactive calculator that projects a person’s retirement income beginning at an assumed retirement age (projection), and presents calculations of the costs associated with delaying changes (cost of delay). The Goals Only and Goals + Projections tools will offer a subset of those capabilities.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Block randomization; see randomization file included for more information.
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
N/A
Sample size: planned number of observations
6000
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
2000 individuals group 1 (1/3; split into 1/6 and 1/6), 2000 individuals group 2 (1/3), 2000 individuals group 3 (1/3)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Minimum Detectable Effect Size for Main Outcomes
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Claremont Graduate University Institutional Review Board (IRB)
IRB Approval Date
2016-10-10
IRB Approval Number
2813
IRB Name
University of Minnesota HRPP
IRB Approval Date
2016-07-12
IRB Approval Number
1607E90001
IRB Name
Stanford University IRB
IRB Approval Date
2016-09-12
IRB Approval Number
38948
Analysis Plan

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Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers