Aging citizens are required to make important financial decisions that will impact many aspects of their increasing long years in retirement. As people age, however, they face a growing mismatch between the complexity of the decisions they face and the cognitive declines that may hinder their decision-making abilities. This project develops new data that combines objective measures of behaviors and outcomes relating to wealth and portfolio choice with subjective measures of expectations, preferences, and affect, and measures of financial knowledge and cognition. By combining data across these domains, the project contributes to a fuller understanding of how older Americans view and handle financial decision-making.
The project also advances the methodology for studying the behavior and decision-making of older Americans by combining data from several measurement modes: large-scale surveys conducted by mail, Internet, and telephone; laboratory experiments; cognitive interviewing; and administrative records. Linking data for individual observations across these modes enables assessment and improvement of the methods of measurement, which the researchers ultimately plan to extend from financial to healthcare decision-making. This project examines how the financial crisis that began in the fall 2008 has affected the retirement planning and well-being of older Americans. Furthermore, it analyzes innovations in retirement finance that will better serve the needs of older Americans by addressing their need to make complex decisions while faced with the prospect of declining cognition.