Rational pensions for irrational people: Behavioral science lessons for the Netherlands

This paper examines some of the main behavioral patterns that determine personal saving, investment, and retirement decisions, and considers ways to move them in a socially desirable direction. We pay special attention to factors contributing to people making choices that are not in line with their preferences. We present empirical evidence from other countries and consider their implications for proposed changes to the system in the Netherlands.The paper makes various suggestions for improvement regarding both the institutional design and product design for pension saving in the Netherlands that could be adopted in the context of recent proposals for a structural change of the pension system. In doing so it pays attention to both occupational pensions (“the second layer”) and pensions for the self employed. A comparison is made with the recommendations of the Goudswaard Committee.

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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