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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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The SSRC Library includes resources which may be available only via journal subscription. The SSRC may be able to provide users without subscription access to a particular journal with a single use copy of the full text.  Please email the SSRC with your request.

The SSRC Library collection is constantly growing and new research is added regularly. We welcome our users to submit a library item to help us grow our collection in response to your needs.


  • Individual Author: Sprague, Aleta
    Reference Type: Stakeholder Resource
    Year: 2013

    Roughly half the private workforce does not have access to defined contribution retirement plans because their employers choose not to offer one. Still, for many with access, their accumulated assets will not adequately replace their incomes. Without policy changes, the transition to a 401(k)-based system is on its way to becoming a failed social experiment. The state of California has recently embarked on crafting a response. In September 2012, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 1234, which created the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program. California Secure Choice (“CSC”) would establish automatic retirement accounts for all workers in the private sector who do not otherwise have access to a workplace retirement plan. This issue brief explores the inequities and shortcomings of the current retirement system; outlines the effort in California to reduce these inequities through universal accounts; and offers additional policy considerations for both the California initiative and the national retirement savings framework. (authors abstract)

    Roughly half the private workforce does not have access to defined contribution retirement plans because their employers choose not to offer one. Still, for many with access, their accumulated assets will not adequately replace their incomes. Without policy changes, the transition to a 401(k)-based system is on its way to becoming a failed social experiment. The state of California has recently embarked on crafting a response. In September 2012, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 1234, which created the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program. California Secure Choice (“CSC”) would establish automatic retirement accounts for all workers in the private sector who do not otherwise have access to a workplace retirement plan. This issue brief explores the inequities and shortcomings of the current retirement system; outlines the effort in California to reduce these inequities through universal accounts; and offers additional policy considerations for both the California initiative and the national retirement savings framework. (authors abstract)

  • Individual Author: Thaler, Richard H.; Benartzi, Shlomo
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2004

    As firms switch from defined-benefit plans to defined-contribution plans, employees bear more responsibility for making decisions about how much to save. The employees who fail to join the plan or who participate at a very low level appear to be saving at less than the predicted life cycle savings rates. Behavioral explanations for this behavior stress bounded rationality and self-control and suggest that at least some of the low-saving households are making a mistake and would welcome aid in making decisions about their saving. In this paper, we propose such a prescriptive savings program, called Save More Tomorrow(TM) (hereafter, the SMarT program). The essence of the program is straightforward: people commit in advance to allocating a portion of their future salary increases toward retirement savings. We report evidence on the first three implementations of the SMarT program. Our key findings, from the first implementation, which has been in place for four annual raises, are as follows: (1) a high proportion 8 percent) of those offered the plan joined, (2) the vast majority...

    As firms switch from defined-benefit plans to defined-contribution plans, employees bear more responsibility for making decisions about how much to save. The employees who fail to join the plan or who participate at a very low level appear to be saving at less than the predicted life cycle savings rates. Behavioral explanations for this behavior stress bounded rationality and self-control and suggest that at least some of the low-saving households are making a mistake and would welcome aid in making decisions about their saving. In this paper, we propose such a prescriptive savings program, called Save More Tomorrow(TM) (hereafter, the SMarT program). The essence of the program is straightforward: people commit in advance to allocating a portion of their future salary increases toward retirement savings. We report evidence on the first three implementations of the SMarT program. Our key findings, from the first implementation, which has been in place for four annual raises, are as follows: (1) a high proportion 8 percent) of those offered the plan joined, (2) the vast majority of those enrolled in the SMarT plan (80 percent) remained in it through the fourth pay raise, and (3) the average saving rates for SMarT program participants increased from 3.5 percent to 13.6 percent over the course of 40 months. The results suggest that behavioral economics can be used to design effective prescriptive programs for important economic decisions. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Karlan, Dean; Zinman, Jonathan
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    Mounting evidence suggests that behavioral factors depress wealth accumulation.  Although much research and policy focuses on asset accumulation, for many households debt decumulation is more efficient.   Yet the mass market for debt reduction services is thin.  So we develop and pilot test Borrow Less Tomorrow (BoLT), a behavioral approach to debt reduction that combines a simple decision aid, social commitment, and reminders.  Results from a sample of free tax-preparation clients with eligible debt in Tulsa (N=465) indicate strong demand for debt reduction: 41% of those offered BoLT used it to make a plan to accelerate debt repayment.  Using random assignment to BoLT offers, we find weak evidence that the BoLT package offered reduces credit card debt. (author abstract)

    Mounting evidence suggests that behavioral factors depress wealth accumulation.  Although much research and policy focuses on asset accumulation, for many households debt decumulation is more efficient.   Yet the mass market for debt reduction services is thin.  So we develop and pilot test Borrow Less Tomorrow (BoLT), a behavioral approach to debt reduction that combines a simple decision aid, social commitment, and reminders.  Results from a sample of free tax-preparation clients with eligible debt in Tulsa (N=465) indicate strong demand for debt reduction: 41% of those offered BoLT used it to make a plan to accelerate debt repayment.  Using random assignment to BoLT offers, we find weak evidence that the BoLT package offered reduces credit card debt. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Valenti, Joe; Grinstein-Weiss, Michal; Hamilton, Gayle
    Reference Type: SSRC Products
    Year: 2014

    On April 30, 2014, the Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse (SSRC) hosted the Behavioral Economics at Tax Time Webinar featuring Joe Valenti, Director of Asset Building at the Center for American Progress, Dr. Michal Grinstein-Weiss, Associate Director of the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, and Gayle Hamilton, Senior Fellow in the Low-Wage Workers and Communities Policy Area at MDRC.

    These speakers shared findings from the Refund to Savings and SaveUSA projects. Refund to Savings is a collaborative effort among Duke University, the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, and Intuit, the makers of TurboTax Free File software. The experiment uses motivational prompts and default savings allocations to heighten low to moderate-income tax filers’ awareness of savings options during the tax return process. It is the largest saving experiment conducted in the U.S. to date, involving an estimated one million participants in the in-product stage of the intervention. The SaveUSA program provides a match of 50...

    On April 30, 2014, the Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse (SSRC) hosted the Behavioral Economics at Tax Time Webinar featuring Joe Valenti, Director of Asset Building at the Center for American Progress, Dr. Michal Grinstein-Weiss, Associate Director of the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, and Gayle Hamilton, Senior Fellow in the Low-Wage Workers and Communities Policy Area at MDRC.

    These speakers shared findings from the Refund to Savings and SaveUSA projects. Refund to Savings is a collaborative effort among Duke University, the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, and Intuit, the makers of TurboTax Free File software. The experiment uses motivational prompts and default savings allocations to heighten low to moderate-income tax filers’ awareness of savings options during the tax return process. It is the largest saving experiment conducted in the U.S. to date, involving an estimated one million participants in the in-product stage of the intervention. The SaveUSA program provides a match of 50 cents on the dollar to low-income tax filers who save a portion of their tax refund directly to a special savings account. MDRC is evaluating the program to see whether short-term incentivized savings can lead to longer-term savings habits, reduce material hardships, and improve the overall financial well-being of participants. This document is a transcript of the Webinar.

    View additional materials from the Webinar here. The PowerPoint from the Webinar can be found here. A record of the question and answer session from the Webinar can be found here.

  • Individual Author: Valenti, Joe; Grinstein-Weiss, Michal; Hamilton, Gayle
    Reference Type: SSRC Products
    Year: 2014

    On April 30, 2014, the Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse (SSRC) hosted the Behavioral Economics at Tax Time Webinar featuring Joe Valenti, Director of Asset Building at the Center for American Progress, Dr. Michal Grinstein-Weiss, Associate Director of the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, and Gayle Hamilton, Senior Fellow in the Low-Wage Workers and Communities Policy Area at MDRC.

    These speakers shared findings from the Refund to Savings and SaveUSA projects. Refund to Savings is a collaborative effort among Duke University, the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, and Intuit, the makers of TurboTax Free File software. The experiment uses motivational prompts and default savings allocations to heighten low to moderate-income tax filers’ awareness of savings options during the tax return process. It is the largest saving experiment conducted in the U.S. to date, involving an estimated one million participants in the in-product stage of the intervention. The SaveUSA program provides a match of 50...

    On April 30, 2014, the Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse (SSRC) hosted the Behavioral Economics at Tax Time Webinar featuring Joe Valenti, Director of Asset Building at the Center for American Progress, Dr. Michal Grinstein-Weiss, Associate Director of the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, and Gayle Hamilton, Senior Fellow in the Low-Wage Workers and Communities Policy Area at MDRC.

    These speakers shared findings from the Refund to Savings and SaveUSA projects. Refund to Savings is a collaborative effort among Duke University, the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, and Intuit, the makers of TurboTax Free File software. The experiment uses motivational prompts and default savings allocations to heighten low to moderate-income tax filers’ awareness of savings options during the tax return process. It is the largest saving experiment conducted in the U.S. to date, involving an estimated one million participants in the in-product stage of the intervention. The SaveUSA program provides a match of 50 cents on the dollar to low-income tax filers who save a portion of their tax refund directly to a special savings account. MDRC is evaluating the program to see whether short-term incentivized savings can lead to longer-term savings habits, reduce material hardships, and improve the overall financial well-being of participants. This document contains the questions and answers discussed during the Webinar.

    View additional materials from the Webinar here. The PowerPoint from the Webinar can be found here. The Webinar transcript can be found here.

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