Information, Preferences and Public Benefit Participation: Experimental Evidence

Last registered on March 28, 2022

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Information, Preferences and Public Benefit Participation: Experimental Evidence
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0002468
Initial registration date
March 28, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
March 28, 2022, 5:06 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
University of Chicago

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2006-02-01
End date
2007-05-31
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
I present a treatment group with reductions in information, administrative, stigma and procrastination costs associated with the Advance EITC. The treatment only increases Advance participation from 0.3 to 1.2 percent. Another treatment simultaneously encourages 401(k) savings, increasing 401(k) participation from 46 to 50 percent. However, there is no additional increase in Advance participation when coupled with the 401(k) treatment, casting doubt on a long-term forced savings motive. The results indicate that EITC recipients actively forgo the Advance. Further work is needed to identify what underlies these preferences. Possible explanations include uncertainty and/or short-term forced savings motives.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Jones, Damon. 2022. "Information, Preferences and Public Benefit Participation: Experimental Evidence." AEA RCT Registry. March 28. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.2468
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2006-04-01
Intervention End Date
2006-05-31

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Advance EITC participation rates; 401(k) participation rates
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Store managers are given training on the Advance EITC and the materials to be used for the experiment. Materials are shipped out to the stores, and the treatment is administered over the span of two weeks to all current employees. The informational materials given to these employees suggest that additional payments received from the Advance EITC may be channeled into a 401(k) plan. They are told via a video presentation, "Now you can take the extra $30 per week from the Advance EITC and put it into your 401K plan." Managers are given an additional table outlining the 401(k) contribution level needed to roughly offset Advance payments. In addition to Advance EITC forms, the employees also receive the necessary forms for 401(k) enrollment. Those in the second treatment group are likewise subject to a soft deadline of two weeks to make a decision.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization was done by computer.
Randomization Unit
District; Store; Employee
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
19 districts, 185 stores
Sample size: planned number of observations
6,977 employees
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
6 districts assigned to the "Advance EITC Only" treatment (58 stores and 2,227 employees)
6 districts assigned to the "Advance EITC and 401(k)" treatment (66 stores and 2,519 employees)
7 districts assigned to the control group (61 stores and 2,231 employees)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
May 31, 2006, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
May 31, 2006, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
19 districts, 185 stores
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
6,977 employees
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
6 districts assigned to the "Advance EITC Only" treatment (58 stores and 2,227 employees) 6 districts assigned to the "Advance EITC and 401(k)" treatment (66 stores and 2,519 employees) 7 districts assigned to the control group (61 stores and 2,231 employees)
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Abstract
Within a field experiment, I present a treatment group with reductions in information, administrative, stigma and procrastination costs associated with the Advance EITC. The treatment only increases Advance participation from 0.3 to 1.2 percent. Another treatment simultaneously encourages 401(k) savings, increasing 401(k) participation from 46 to 50 percent. However, there is no additional increase in Advance participation when coupled with the 401(k) treatment, casting doubt on a long-term forced savings motive. The results indicate that EITC recipients actively forgo the Advance. Further work is needed to identify what underlies these preferences. Possible explanations include uncertainty and/or short-term forced savings motives
Citation
Damon Jones. "Information, Preferences and Public Benefit Participation: Experimental Evidence from the Advance EITC and 401(k) Savings." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2(2), April 2010: 147-63.

Reports & Other Materials