This paper by Karen Holden and Sara Kock is the third report in our study of the influences affecting participation and contribution decisions of individuals eligible to participate in the Wisconsin Deferred Compensation (WDC) program. This analysis is intended to complement both the quantitative analysis in their 2012 report, based on administrative and survey data, and the focus group discussions reported in their 2011 report.
In the 2012 paper, we documented account balances lower contributions made by women, even when taking account of earnings and demographic characteristics. While other literature convincingly argues that women have lower retirement savings than do men because of different types of benefits offered in jobs they hold and the lower salaries of women, our results show that women have lower WDC savings
even when they are in jobs with identical benefits and have comparable earnings. It appears that something different is occurring when women and men are faced with WDC-related decisions. The focus groups of female WDC account holders, suggested some reasons that may make
women delay their participating in WDC beyond the date of first eligibility and lead to more conservative investment decisions. Here we tap their responses to survey questions about the “why” of their decisions to explore whether there are differences between the decision making
process of men and women that could be addressed by WDC.