Two overarching questions guide the activities of the NBER Roybal Center: (1) What factors influence households'health and savings decisions? (2) Which interventions based on mechanisms in behavioral economics generate behavior change? We study these questions by applying and testing models in economics, psychology, and other behavioral sciences. We are particularly interested in identifying interventions that are cost-effective and scalable and that significantly change behavior. We use a wide range of methods, including field experiments, natural experiments, laboratory experiments, and applied theory. The NBER Roybal Center emphasizes individual decision-making, a focus that is particularly relevant in light of the growing role of individual choice in the health and savings domains. Today individuals themselves play a key decision-making role through institutions like defined contribution pension plans, IRAs, health insurance exchanges, and consumer-driven health care. Decisions about insurance plans, provider choice, diet, exercise, medication adherence, preventive care, retirement savings rates, asset allocation, and retirement wealth decumulation fall on the individual and not on employers or governments. The NBER Roybal Center seeks out opportunities for translating basic science results from research in the economics of health and aging into practical applications that improve health and economic well-being at older ages. We also translate successful behavioral interventions developed in the domain of retirement savings to the domain of health and, vice versa. Our first set of pilots will address the following questions. (1) Can savings can be increased by turning loan repayments into savings contributions when the loan is fully repaid? (2) What is the effect of different delay horizons when committing to start saving in the future? (3) How does observability and feedback increase hand hygiene among healthcare workers? (4) Can annuitization rates be increased by broadly framing the annuitization decision and changing the default? (5) Can an active choice intervention raise the fraction of households that adopt an advanced directive for end of life medical care? (6) What determines the savings flows into Health Savings Accounts and the use of medical services by households with such accounts?

Public Health Relevance

The NBER Roybal Center for Behavior Change in Health and Savings studies the factors that influence households'health-related decisionse.g., insurance plan choice, provider choice, diet, exercise, medication adherence, preventive care. The Roybal Center also develops and implements interventions that facilitate behavior change. Finally, the Roybal Center studies interventions that improve retirement savings choices, which may improve retirees'quality of life and their access to health care.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Center Core Grants (P30)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAG1)
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Phillips, John
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National Bureau of Economic Research
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Turley, Patrick; Walters, Raymond K; Maghzian, Omeed et al. (2018) Multi-trait analysis of genome-wide association summary statistics using MTAG. Nat Genet 50:229-237
Beshears, John; Choi, James J; Laibson, David et al. (2017) Does front-loading taxation increase savings? Evidence from Roth 401(k) introductions. J Public Econ 151:84-95
Alsan, Marcella; Beshears, John; Armstrong, Wendy S et al. (2017) A commitment contract to achieve virologic suppression in poorly adherent patients with HIV/AIDS. AIDS 31:1765-1769
Beshears, John; Choi, James J; Laibson, David et al. (2017) Does Aggregated Returns Disclosure Increase Portfolio Risk Taking? Rev Financ Stud 30:1971-2005
Beshears, John; Choi, James J; Laibson, David I et al. (2016) Vaccination Rates are Associated With Functional Proximity But Not Base Proximity of Vaccination Clinics. Med Care 54:578-83
Rogers, Todd; Milkman, Katherine L (2016) Reminders Through Association. Psychol Sci 27:973-86
Beshears, John; Choi, James J; Hurwitz, Joshua et al. (2015) Liquidity in Retirement Savings Systems: An International Comparison. Am Econ Rev 105:420-425
Chow, Jeremy Y; Alsan, Marcella; Armstrong, Wendy et al. (2015) Risk factors for AIDS-defining illnesses among a population of poorly adherent people living with HIV/AIDS in Atlanta, Georgia. AIDS Care 27:844-8
Milkman, Katherine L; Minson, Julia A; Volpp, Kevin G M (2014) Holding the Hunger Games Hostage at the Gym: An Evaluation of Temptation Bundling. Manage Sci 60:283-299
Beshears, John; Choi, James J; Laibson, David et al. (2014) What Makes Annuitization More Appealing? J Public Econ 116:2-16

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