Chapter | Lessons from Pension Reform in the Americas | 2008

The Importance of Default Options for Retirement Saving Outcomes: Evidence from the United States

by John Beshears, James J. Choi, David Laibson and Brigitte C. Madrian

Abstract

This paper summarizes the empirical evidence on how defaults impact retirement savings outcomes. After outlining the salient features of the various sources of retirement income in the U.S., the paper presents the empirical evidence on how defaults impact retirement savings outcomes at all stages of the savings lifecycle, including savings plan participation, savings rates, asset allocation, and post-retirement savings distributions. The paper then discusses why defaults have such a tremendous impact on savings outcomes. The paper concludes with a discussion of the role of public policy towards retirement saving when defaults matter.

Keywords: Saving; Financial Condition; Retirement; Investment Funds; Microeconomics; Outcome or Result; Government and Politics; Financial Institutions; Macroeconomics; United States;

Citation:

Beshears, John, James J. Choi, David Laibson, and Brigitte C. Madrian. "The Importance of Default Options for Retirement Saving Outcomes: Evidence from the United States." In Lessons from Pension Reform in the Americas, edited by Stephen J. Kay and Tapen Sinha, 59–87. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.