Are retirement planning tools substitutes or complements to financial capability?

Gopi Shah Goda, Matthew R. Levy, Colleen Flaherty Manchester, Aaron Sojourner, Joshua Tasoff, Jiusi Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We conduct a randomized controlled trial to understand how a web-based retirement saving calculator affects workers' retirement-savings decisions. In both the treatment and active control conditions, the calculator projects workers' retirement income goal. In the treatment condition only, it also projects retirement income based on defined-contribution savings, prominently displays the gap between projected goal and actual retirement income, and allows users to interactively explore how alternative, future contribution choices would affect the gap. The treatment increased average annual retirement contributions by $174 (2.3 percent). However, effects were larger for those with higher measures of financial knowledge, suggesting this type of tool complements, rather than substitutes for, underlying financial capability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)561-573
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
StatePublished - Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier B.V.


  • Exponential-growth bias
  • Financial capability
  • Financial literacy
  • Present bias
  • Retirement planning
  • Retirement saving


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