George Smyrnis, Hazel Bateman, Loretti Dobrescu, Ben R. Newell and Susan Thorp
Abstract: Can projections of retirement wealth and income motivate pension plan participants to save more? Results of field and online experiments show that participants who see both retirement balance and income projections increase voluntary savings. In the field study, conducted by a large Australian pension plan in 2013-14, participants of the treatment group received current balance, projected retirement balance and projected retirement income information, while participants of the control received only current balance information. Within one year of the treatment, the frequency, and average amount, of voluntary savings by treated plan participants rose significantly, as did the rate of participants interactions with the plan. In the related online experiment conducted in 2017, we tested the relative effect of information on (i) current balance; (ii) current balance and projected retirement balance; (iii) current balance and projected retirement income; and (iv) current balance, projected retirement balance and projected retirement income. Consistent with the field trial, the combination of retirement balance and income projections motivates a significantly higher retirement savings accumulation, after a sequence of ten savings decisions, than current balance information alone. Together our results strongly endorse recent changes to retirement plan benefit statement guidelines initiated by pension regulators globally.
Keywords: pensions, field experiment, benefit projections