Creating Good Choice Environments:Insights from research and industry practice

One of the most heavily debated topics in the Dutch pension industry is whether Dutch pension plan participants should receive more freedom of choice. Greater choice provides participants with more control over their retirement planning, enabling them to adapt their retirement saving strategy to their personal preferences. More choice is also supposed to increase participant engagement with their retirement strategy and pensions. However, numerous studies show that, under certain conditions, individuals view choices as being complex, confusing and risky. This creates potential for decision mistakes, anxiety and inertia. Thus, in the event that the Dutch pension system moves toward greater freedom of choice, it is important to create a choice environment that helps participants make choices and avoid undesirable consequences. To advance knowledge on good choice environments in the pension industry, we first present and discuss research on choice environments. We then present practical examples especially from markets and industries with long histories of freedom of choice (e.g. consumer goods) and formulate advice for the pension industry.

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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