Matthew Levy

Department of Economics
London School of Economics
and Political Science
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
Tel: 617-495-5365
Fax: 617-496-1636

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: London School of Economics

NBER Working Papers and Publications

December 2019Estimating Biases in Smoking Cessation: Evidence from a Field Experiment
with Frank J. Chaloupka IV, Justin S. White: w26522
We conduct a randomized field experiment to quantify biases that affect consumers of addictive goods: present-biased preferences, naïve beliefs regarding present bias, and projection-biased beliefs over future abstinence. These biases reflect departures from the neoclassical benchmark needed to accommodate intertemporal and state-dependent prediction errors and have important theoretical and policy ramifications. Our experiment employs a new approach for remote monitoring to ensure truthful reporting of behavior and valuations, and a novel identification of subjects’ biases based on willingness to pay for future abstinence incentives that serve as partial commitment devices. We find that cigarette smokers overestimate their likelihood of future abstinence by more than 100%, consistent with...
July 2019Who is a Passive Saver Under Opt-In and Auto-Enrollment?
with Gopi Shah Goda, Colleen Flaherty Manchester, Aaron Sojourner, Joshua Tasoff: w26078
Defaults have been shown to have a powerful effect on retirement saving behavior yet there is limited research on who is most affected by defaults and whether this varies based on features of the choice environment. Using administrative data on employer-sponsored retirement accounts linked to survey data, we estimate the relationship between retirement saving choices and individual characteristics – long-term discounting, present bias, financial literacy, and exponential-growth bias – under two distinct choice environments: an opt-in regime and an auto-enrollment regime. Consistent with our conceptual model, we find that the determinants of following the default and contribution behavior are regime-specific. Under the opt-in regime, financial literacy plays an important role in predicting ...

Published: Gopi Shah Goda & Matthew R. Levy & Colleen Flaherty Manchester & Aaron Sojourner & Joshua Tasoff, 2019. "Who is a passive saver under opt-in and auto-enrollment?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, . citation courtesy of

August 2015The Role of Time Preferences and Exponential-Growth Bias in Retirement Savings
with Gopi Shah Goda, Colleen Flaherty Manchester, Aaron Sojourner, Joshua Tasoff: w21482
There is considerable variation in retirement savings within income, age, and educational categories. Using a broad sample of the U.S. population, we elicit time preference parameters from a quasi-hyperbolic discounting model, and perceptions of exponential growth. We find that present bias (PB), the tendency to value utility in the present over the future in a dynamically inconsistent way, and exponential-growth bias (EGB), the tendency to neglect compounding, are prevalent and distinct latent variables. PB, EGB, and the long-run discount factor are all highly significant in predicting retirement savings, even while controlling for measures of IQ and general financial literacy as well as a rich set of demographic controls. We find that lack of self-awareness of these biases has an additio...
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