Life events and participant engagement in pension plans
Elisabeth Brüggen, Thomas Post, Matthew Blakstad
We study the use of life events for creating effective pension communication. Pension plan participants are often not open to pension communication nor engage in pension planning. Overcoming this lack of engagement is important: Participants should form realistic expectations about their retirement finances, discover pension gaps early enough to be able to act accordingly as well experience less negative emotions and retirement anxiety in case of (often) unwarranted pessimistic expectations. Timing communication around important life events (e.g., getting married, starting a new job) is often suggested to increase communication effectiveness. Life events may coincide with teachable moments and thus more openness to pension communication and planning. In this paper, we first review the literature on life events as teachable moments. Second, we provide an overview of life events suited in particular to increase engagement. Third, we present empirical evidence on life events and participant engagement. Finally, we derive implications for theory as well as for practice.