Adapting pension communication to the heterogeneous characteristics and needs of participants

Recent studies and industry reports (e.g., Visser et al., 2012; EIOPA, 2013) suggest that the majority of participants in occupational pension schemes know very little about pensions, do not read the UPO or log on to a mijn environment. Potential pension gaps remain undetected and could have severe consequences for the participants once they retire. Thus, an important challenge for pension communication is to find ways to motivate participants to become aware of the importance of pensions, to inform themselves about their individual expected pension rights (and gaps), and ultimately to take action (e.g., start building up sufficient third pillar savings). Thus, the overarching research question of the proposed research is “How can pension communication be adapted to the heterogeneous characteristics and needs of participants to improve pension participant activation and action ?” The focus of this proposal is the Dutch second pillar pension system as it provides the most significant share of retirement income in the Netherlands and is one of the largest funded pension systems in the world.

In particular we want to address the following three (related) research questions:

  1. How can pension communication (by a second pillar provider) be (mass) customized to take into account the heterogeneous characteristics and needs of participants?
  2. How can framing of information be used to improve pension communication in an environment where pension providers have a large number of participants with heterogeneous characteristics and needs?
  3. How effective is (mass) customized pension communication? Does (mass) customized pension communication improve participants awareness (i.e., attitude or knowledge) and action (i.e., logging on to a mijn environment, actively seeking information, making additional savings or investments, etc.)?

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Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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