A Framework for Promoting Retirement Savings

Wiener, J. & Doescher, T. (2008). A Framework for Promoting Retirement Savings, The Journal of Consumer Affairs, 42 (2), 137-164.

Brief description: This paper identifies the constructs that influence an individual’s intention to save for retirement. It discusses how and when these factors can be changed by an agent trying to induce an individual to enroll in a retirement plan, increase his or her contribution to a plan, or purchase a particular retirement product. A broad array of psychological theories is used to develop a series of persuasive communications that can encourage a person to save. In addition, the persuasive communication approach is placed in the broader context of all efforts to promote retirement savings.

Implications: Persuasive communications can be effective. To be effective they should: (1) be positive; (2) be rich in imagery and detail; (3) not ask people to do too much; (4) use normative and social pressure; (5) be tailored to the specific market segment; and (6) limit investment choices and pressure to make an excellent decision . Many current educational efforts so badly fail these simple rules that they may be (under some circumstances) counter-productive