New Ways to Make People Save: A Social Marketing Approach (Lusardi et al. 2009)
Lusardi, A., Keller, P. A, & Keller, A. M. (2009). New ways to make people sSave: A social marketing approach. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 14715. Cambridge, MA: NBER.
By clicking the links below, you are leaving CLEAR and are subject to the privacy and security policies of the owners/sponsors of the external site. CLEAR does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information contained in a linked site. We also do not endorse the organizations or individuals maintaining sites that we link to, any views they express, or any products/services they offer.
The original publication was found at:
If this link no longer works, you can try a Google search for the citation.
- The study’s objective was to assess the effect of a retirement planning aid on encouraging new hires at a large institution to enroll in a supplemental retirement account (SRA). The authors presented results from both an initial pilot test and a full-scale implementation using a modified version of the planning aid.
- The authors compared the mean 30- and 60-day enrollment rates of cohorts of new hires using administrative data provided by the institution.
- The final version of the planning aid increased SRA enrollment considerably relative to the control group, with more than 27 percent of new hires enrolling within 30 days and more than 41 percent enrolling within 60 days, compared with 7 and 29 percent, respectively, in the control group. Results were similar during the pilot intervention phase.
- The quality of causal evidence provided in this study is low. This means that we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the planning aid; other factors are likely to have contributed.
Evaluation of a Retirement Planning Tool
In this study, the authors sought to develop a planning tool designed to mitigate several primary barriers to retirement savings, principally procrastination and difficulty translating retirement goals into savings rates. The outcome of interest was the SRA enrollment rate for new hires at a single large institution.
The authors collected data from three cohorts of new hires at the large institution where the study took place. The first cohort, which served as the control group, consisted of new hires who entered the institution from January to July 2006; new employees in this time period received the traditional SRA enrollment materials with no planning aid. The first intervention period served as a pilot test for the planning aid. New hires who underwent orientation from August to October 2006 received an eight-step planning brochure as part of their orientation materials. The planning aid described how to open an account, offered specific logistical advice for enrollment, and provided concrete savings advice for new hires with imprecise retirement goals.
In the second intervention period, from December 2006 through early April 2007, the authors deployed a streamlined version of the planning aid. This version was pared down to seven steps, juxtaposed an image with each step, and provided time estimates for each stage of the enrollment process.
The authors used an interrupted time series analysis to compare enrollment rates for cohorts one and two. Enrollment rates for the final cohort were also directly compared with the (noncontiguous) initial cohort. The analysis compared average enrollment over time and did not control in these comparisons for cohort characteristics.
- The pilot planning aid increased SRA enrollment significantly. More than 21 percent of the second cohort enrolled within 30 days of hire and nearly 45 percent enrolled within 60 days, compared with 7 and 29 percent, respectively, of cohort one.
- The streamlined planning aid led to similar increases in SRA enrollment. More than 27 percent of new hires in cohort three enrolled in an SRA within 30 days and more than 41 percent enrolled within 60 days.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The authors compared average enrollment rates across cohorts and did not adjust in any way for cohort characteristics. Because the control and treatment groups in the first intervention fell along a chronological continuum, the effects of the planning aid were estimated in an interrupted time series framework. The authors conducted only a single demonstration of the intervention and did not provide any evidence to suggest that its timing was independent of prior trends, so it is possible that the intervention coincided with other events that might have affected the observed enrollment rates.
The comparison and treatment groups in the contrast of cohorts one and three were separated in time and thus do not constitute an interrupted time series design. In this case, the lack of statistical controls for possible systematic differences between the two groups introduced a range of other factors that could also account for the observed differences in enrollment rates.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence provided in this study is low. This means that we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the planning aid; other factors are likely to have contributed.