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. 


December 2008

Despite agreement among experts that many consumers should place a high value on life annuities and related products that insure against longevity risk, few consumers voluntarily annuitize their retirement savings.

November 2008

This paper examines the two sets of factors controlled by a worker and affecting a person’s Social Security benefit.

October 2008

This paper examines two studies of investment risk taking among higher education employees in their institution-sponsored retirement savings plans. Risk taking is a complex psychological and behavioral process. The first study examined direct correlates of risk taking.

Research Reports

February 2018

Procrastination keeps employees at the default contribution rate, but only in “opt-out” plans.

June 2016

More than 30 million Americans are projected to retire in the next decade – and most have not saved nearly enough for retirement. Moreover, almost half of all Social Security recipients claim benefits at the earliest possible age (62), which can greatly reduce their total lifetime benefits.

December 2015

As employer-sponsored savings vehicles, like 401(k)s, become a major source of retirement income for millions of Americans, personal biases can have an outsized impact on retirement security.