Save More Tomorrow: Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Savings

Shlomo Benartzi and Richard H. Thaler
Journal of Political Economy
February 1, 2004

As firms switch from defined-benefit plans to defined-contribution plans, employees bear more responsibility for making decisions about how much to save. The employees who fail to join the plan or who participate at a very low level appear to be saving at less than the predicted life cycle savings rates. Behavioral explanations for this behavior
stress bounded rationality and self-control and suggest that at least some of the low-saving households are making a mistake and would welcome aid in making decisions about their saving. In this paper, we propose such a prescriptive savings program, called Save More Tomorrow (hereafter, the SMarT program). The essence of the program is straightforward: people commit in advance to allocating a portion of their future salary increases toward retirement savings.
We report evidence on the first three implementations of the SMarTprogram.

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