Behavioral Finance

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The psychology of decision making

How information is presented, or “framed,” and other personal biases affect decision-making. The TIAA Institute focuses on such issues as how to motivate people to make decisions about when to claim Social Security, whether or not to annuitize, and how to save for retirement. 


Also produced by the TIAA Institute, Insights features reports addressing prominent issues in financial security, higher education, and philanthropy. While typically written for a primarily non-technical audience, Insights are prepared using the same level of academic rigor found in our other research publications, and can serve as valuable sources of information for a diverse group of readers.

June 2020

Even with all the theoretical reasons to purchase life annuities, few retirees do so. What role do emotions and social norms play in annuity product uptake?

June 2020

Retirement plans differ in whether employee or employer contributions are mandated, leaving a critical role for voluntary contributions.

June 2020

What happens when workers suffer a decrease in total wealth due to changes in their retirement plan’s benefit levels?

Research Reports

Original research produced by the TIAA Institute—both independently and in collaboration with noted scholars—examines topics of interest to the academic, nonprofit and public sectors. The reports combine statistical findings with thoughtful, data-driven observations and conclusions to provide in-depth analyses that are informative and appropriate for both technical and more academic audiences.

September 2020

The complexity of health and retirement benefit plan offerings can make it difficult for employees to make optimal decisions.

June 2020

Poor financial capability can contribute to a host of problems, particularly for people close to retirement.

June 2020

Behavioral prompts that encourage reflection on goals and future needs can have significant effects on asset allocation decisions and expected returns.