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Next Brown Bag

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Behavior on Surveys and in the Economy: HRS and Beyond

a PSC Research Project

Investigators:   Robert Willis, Miles Kimball, Matthew D. Shapiro, Tyler G. Shumway, Brooke Helppie McFall

Aging citizens are required to make complex financial, health, and long-term decisions as they prepare for and then enjoy increasingly long periods of retirement. Moreover, as people age, there is a mismatch between the complexity of the decisions they face and the sometimes sudden, sometimes gradual cognitive declines that accompany aging. This project will develop new data that combines objective measures of behaviors and outcomes relating to wealth and portfolio choice, subjective measures of expectations, preferences, affect, measures of financial knowledge, and measures of cognition. By combining measurements across these domains, the project will develop a fuller understanding of the financial decisionmaking and behavior of older Americans.

The project will also advance the methodology for studying the behavior and decisionmaking of older Americans by combining data from several modes: large-scale surveys conducted by mail, Internet, and telephone; laboratory experiments; cognitive interviewing; administrative records. Linking data for individual observations across these measurement modes will provide the fullest possible picture of the decisionmaking and behavior, as well as enabling assessment and improvement of the methods of measurement. The methods advanced by the project for studying older Americans financial decisionmaking will be extended to their healthcare decisionmaking.

The financial crisis that began in the fall 2008 will have major effects on retirement finance. The project will study how the shocks to retirement assets have affected the retirement planning of older Americans and the well-being of retirees. Furthermore, the project will suggest and analyze innovations in retirement finance that better serve the needs of older Americans while addressing their need to make financial and other complex decisions while faced with the prospect of declining cognition.

Funding Period: 04/15/2010 to 03/31/2015

Country of Focus: USA

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