SBEE Seminar Series: John Beshears

Date: 
Mon, 12/09/2019 - 11:30am to 1:00pm

Ehrlicher Room, 3100 North Quad

The Social, Behavioral and Experimental Economics lecture series is sponsored by the School of Information, the Ross School of Business and the Department of Economics. Speakers from U.S. and international universities present their research at weekly seminars during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Note: SBEE Seminars take place from 11:45 am to 12:45 pm. 

Borrowing to Save? The Impact of Automatic Enrollment on Debt

Abstract

Does automatic enrollment into a retirement plan increase borrowing outside the plan? We study a natural experiment created when the U.S. Army began automatically enrolling newly hired civilian employees into the Thrift Savings Plan. Four years after hire, automatic enrollment causes no significant change in credit scores (point estimate 0.001 standard deviations) or debt balances excluding auto loans and first mortgages (point estimate -0.6% of annual salary). We also find no significant increase in auto loan and first mortgage balances in our main regression specification, although the estimated increases in these categories are economically and statistically significant in alternative specifications.

Speaker Bio 

John Beshears is the Terrie F. and Bradley M. Bloom Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit, Harvard Business School,  teaching the second-year MBA course "Motivation & Incentives." He is also a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Before joining HBS, he was an assistant professor of finance at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Professor Beshears’s primary research area is behavioral economics, the field that combines insights from psychology and economics to explore individual decision making and market outcomes. He focuses on understanding how the financial decisions of households and firms are influenced by the institutional environment in which choices are made. In recent work, he has studied participation in retirement savings plans, household investment decisions, and health-care choices.