The power of percentage

Quantitative framing of pension income

We investigate whether the quantitative frame used to communicate future pension income to plan members matters for perceived pension income adequacy. We allocate plan members randomly to one of four pension income framing conditions: annual pension income, monthly pension income, pension income as percentage of current income, pension income as decimal of current income. We find that expressing projected pension income as a percentage (decimal) of current income significantly increases (decreases) the probability that a plan member perceives the pension income as too low. This effect is robust to adding retirement savings attitude. In addition, we find significant and intuitive effects of household wealth, income, age and education on perceived pension income adequacy. We discuss our findings against the backdrop of previous studies on the effect of numeric frames on perceptions, provide suggestions for further research and draw conclusions for pension communication and survey design.

Key words: framing effects, pension income, perceived adequacy.
JEL Codes: C5; C9; D12; G11

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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