Skip to main content
eScholarship
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC San Diego

UC San Diego Previously Published Works bannerUC San Diego

Why do defaults affect behavior? Experimental evidence from Afghanistan

  • Author(s): Blumenstock, J;
  • Callen, M;
  • Ghani, T
  • et al.
Abstract

We report on an experiment examining why default options impact behavior. By randomly assigning employees to different varieties of a salary-linked savings account, we find that default enrollment increases participation by 40 percentage points - A effect equivalent to providing a 50 percent matching incentive. We then use a series of experimental interventions to differentiate between explanations for the default effect, which we conclude is driven largely by present-biased preferences and the cognitive cost of thinking through different savings scenarios. Default assignment also changes employees' attitudes toward saving, and makes them more likely to actively decide to save after the study concludes.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View