Project in detail

Market-based freedom of choice, limitations of consumer sovereignty, and pension policy-making — Evidence from behavioral and institutional economics

Members of this project:



In 2001, the Riester pension reform lead to a paradigm shift in Germany’s pension system as it abolished the monolithic pay-as-you-go system and introduced a multi-pillar pension system with small, but growing supplementary pillars. Especially the state-subsidized but voluntary Riester pension plans were established to fill the emerging pension gap. In Germany, the desired adjustment of the behavior to those changing institutional conditions has to take place on an individual level. Several other countries have taken a competing road by making supplementary pension plans mandatory. By now, findings from behavioral and institutional economics however reveal that many consumers only have limited consumer sovereignty when it comes to supplementary pension and individual choice. Goal of this paper is to analyze the German Riester pension reform from a behavioral and institutional economic perspective trying to explain the gap between the neoclassical approaches to economics and the empirical evidence demonstrating that about two-third of the population has not enrolled in a private Riester contract while other terminate contracts or stop paying contributions. The results of this project have been published in 2013 as a chapter of the book "Die Grenzen der Konsumentensouveränität" and as an article in the journal "WISU - Das Wirtschaftsstudium" as well in 2014 as an article in the journal "Wirtschaftsdienst".

Publications arisen from this project:
  • Haupt, Marlene (2014): Nudging im Bereich der Alterssicherung – warum und wie?, Wirtschaftsdienst, 94, 11, 784-787
  • Haupt, Marlene; Yollu-Tok, Aysel (2014): Ergänzende Altersvorsorge – Akzeptanz, Vertrauen und Ausgestaltung aus Verbrauchersicht, Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung, 83, 3, 19-39
  • Sesselmeier, Werner; Haupt, Marlene (2013): Alterssicherung und Verhaltensökonomik, WISU - Das Wirtschaftsstudium, 42, 1, 108-113
  • Haupt, Marlene (2013): Marktbasierte Wahlfreiheit und politische Gestaltung bei der Altersvorsorge – Befunde der Verhaltens- und Institutionenökonomik, Martin Held, Gisela Kubon-Gilke, Richard Sturn, Jahrbuch Normative und institutionelle Grundfragen der Ökonomik, Die Grenzen der Konsumentensouveränität: 12, Metropolis, Marburg, 161-182

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