Taha Choukmane, MIT Sloan School of Management

How Do Consumers Finance Increased Retirement Savings?


The welfare impact of increasing retirement contributions depends on how individuals adjust their spending, borrowing, and non-retirement savings in response. Using newly merged deposit-, credit-, and pension-account data from a large UK financial institution, we estimate the relevant elasticities by leveraging a policy that incrementally increased minimum retirement contributions in the U.K. from 2% to 8% of salary between March 2018 and April 2019. For every £1 reduction in monthly take-home pay due to higher employee pension contributions, consumers cut their spending by £0.34 (especially in the restaurant and leisure categories) and finance the remaining with lower deposit account balances and higher credit card debt levels. Those with lower initial deposit balances cut their spending the most, while those with significant liquid savings draw down their deposits. Interpreted via a structural life-cycle model, these results suggest that a social planner concerned about undersaving should target retirement saving interventions at low-liquidity individuals whose spending is more elastic to increased retirement saving. In contrast, interventions that increase the retirement contributions of high-liquidity individuals are both less efficient (due to large crowd-out) and often regressive.

Taha Choukhmane is the Class of 1947 Career Development Assistant Professor and an Assistant Professor of Finance at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

He was most recently a postdoctoral fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His research interests lie at the intersection of household finance and behavioral economics, with a focus on households’ saving decisions.

Taha received his PhD in economics at Yale University, where he was awarded the George Trimis Dissertation Prize. He is the recipient of a grant from the Social Security Administration, and he was a dissertation fellow of the Boston College Center for Retirement Research and a graduate policy fellow at Yale’s Institute of Social and Policy Studies.

Choukhmane’s research focuses on the way households make their saving and investment decisions. His current research projects examine the behavior of participants in retirement savings plans: the behavioral biases that affect their investment and portfolio-allocation decisions, and the extent to which married couples coordinate their saving decisions. Another area of ongoing research explores how the design of retirement saving incentives contributes to racial wealth inequality.

You can read more about Taha Choukhmane here 

CEBI contact: Torben Heien Nielsen