Relevant dimensions to give meaning to pension decisions

Pension participants face complex decisions. Information about the decision alternatives often contains the exact monetary amounts associated with the alternatives. Grounded in Fuzzy-Trace Theory (FTT), we argue that informed decision making requires participants to (accurately) understand meaningful differences between decision alternatives, rather than to rely on purely numerical differences in amounts. The objective of this study was to identify, for three decisions Dutch participants can make regarding their old-age pension, what dimensions participants take into account when giving meaning to the decision alternatives. We conducted 39 semi-structured in-depth interviews with Dutch pension participants in which we  discussed the considerations of participants to choose for the decision alternatives. These interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis. Our analysis shows that a number of dimensions are taken into account, partially overlapping for the three decisions: life expectancy, (in)sufficient income, financial maximization, work–life balance, and job satisfaction. According to FTT, participants can be supported in extracting meaningful representations by providing cues about the dimensions that might be affected by the various decision alternatives. The dimensions identified in this paper can serve as a useful starting point for such support.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is een denktank en kennisnetwerk. Netspar is gericht op een goed geïnformeerd pensioendebat.


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