Published January 2010
AutoSave is a savings plan designed by the New America Foundation to promote savings using insights from the field of behavioral economics. The basic premise is to offer employees easy access to a safe and secure savings account into which a small portion of their pay will be deposited. Unlike retirement savings, AutoSave is designed to be completely liquid, enabling individuals to use the plan as an emergency fund or for other short-term savings needs. Public Works Partners Principal Scott Zucker worked with MDRC and the New America Foundation to test the operational feasibility of AutoSave, exploring a number of key questions. Will employers be willing to assist with implementation? Will financial institutions furnish a simple savings product with terms favorable to the saver? Will workers sign up for the plan and make sustained contributions? How much effort will it take to implement and administer the program?
This paper provides an overview of the AutoSave concept, describes the initiative’s phased pilot approach, summarizes operational components of the initiative, describes the application of behavioral economic principals to the AutoSave design, and concludes with early observations from the pilot’s launch and initial insights for policy development.
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