The TIAA Institute & Boettner/Pension Research Council (PRC) Partnership Call for Proposals:

Financial Wellness, Behavioral Insurance, and Retirement Planning

Proposals due July 15, 2019, 5:00 p.m. EST

The TIAA Institute is again partnering with the Wharton School’s Boettner Center/Pension Research Council at the University of Pennsylvania to fund innovative research related to older Americans’ financial wellness, behavioral insurance, and retirement planning. We are now accepting research proposals on these topics. Final funding decisions will be contingent upon continued funding from TIAA.

Eligibility: Any faculty member with an active appointment at a U.S. college or university is eligible to submit a proposal, as are researchers with appointments at public policy research organizations. Junior faculty members are encouraged to apply and special consideration will be given to their applications.

Research Rationale and Priority Areas

We seek proposals to undertake research and analysis of the following Priority Research Topics (with examples of potential research questions):

Employee Engagement, Retirement Planning, and Lifetime Income: Topics under this project will explore nudges and other mechanisms for engaging potentially disengaged workers in behaviors to improve their retirement readiness.

  • What factors drive employee engagement regarding planning and saving for their retirement? How can various plan design components mitigate lack of engagement?
  • What factors can favorably impact participant demand for retirement planning advice, and how can this advice shape participant outcomes?
  • How can plan design and programming (education, guidance, and advice) help identify and help employees needing greater engagement?
  • How can plan design respond to risk exposures created by Social Security and/or Medicare budgetary shortfalls, and how can these risks be communicated to participants?

Behavioral Insurance, Consumer Misperceptions, and Financial Security: Behavioral economics offers tools to evaluate why consumers underinsure their retirement income risks. Topics under this project will explore employees’ and retirees’ perceptions of insurance, and ways to better communicate options for such protection.

  • What factors shape household decision-making when converting savings into income in retirement (e.g., behavioral biases, heuristics, and engagement)?
  • What product and service innovations can help meet these needs, and what programming is useful to engage participants and explain why these meet their needs
  • Can choice architecture be used during the decumulation stage to respond to behavioral biases that discourage the use of annuities in reducing income risk?

Financial Wellness, Financial Literacy, and Plan Design: Many consumer subgroups are financially fragile and lack the financial literacy needed to improve their well-being. Projects under this heading will explore how wellness programs and tools, targeted to demographic segments (e.g. Gen Y, Hispanics, working women, etc.), can improve financial well-being.

  • What metrics are needed to properly access the financial wellness of various demographic segments? How can these metrics be used in developing tools that improve financial literacy and wellness?
  • What role can employer’s play in developing programming that engages workers and retirees in improving their financial well-being? What types of nudges are needed to promote high utilization of the education, guidance, and advice tools available to many households?
  • What can be determined about how different demographic groups/segments prioritize/manage competing financial demands and save for retirement (e.g., Gen Y, Women, Hispanics), and on what basis they do so?
  • How do institutional factors (e.g. tax and Social Security regulations) influence outcomes?

Anticipated Outcomes

  • Innovative research that informs product and service development in the retirement industry, as well as public policy;
  • Strong thought leadership at dissemination events highlighting findings; and
  • Encouraging new researchers to join the retirement research arena.

For more information on how to apply, please download the application instructions here.