Shlomo Benartzi

Profile photo of Shlomo Benartzi
“The Save More Tomorrow™ program, which Richard Thaler and I developed, helped millions of workers save more for retirement. Now I am trying to address a broader set of societal challenges by using the tools of digital nudging.”
 

Professor of Behavioral Decision Making

About

 

Biography

Shlomo Benartzi is a behavioral economist interested in combining the insights of psychology and economics to solve big societal problems. His goal is to help people make better decisions on a very large scale. He received a Ph.D. from Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management and is a professor and co-founder of the Behavioral Decision-Making Group at UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Benartzi’s previous work has demonstrated the potential for far-reaching improvement. Along with Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago, he pioneered the Save More Tomorrow™ (SMarT) program, a behavioral prescription designed to help employees increase their savings rates gradually over time. At one organization, SMarT increased employee savings rates from 3.5 percent to 13.6 percent. The SMarT program is now offered by more than half of the large retirement plans in the U.S. and a growing number of plans in Australia and the U.K. The program has also been incorporated into the Pension Protection Act of 2006, helping millions of Americans boost their retirement savings.

Benartzi’s current focus is online behavior: He studies how people think differently on screens. The end goal is to use this knowledge to design more effective information and choice architectures, which would improve decision-making for millions of people at a time. Benartzi is co-author of The Smarter Screen: Surprising Ways to Influence and Improve Online Behavior, published by Penguin Portfolio in 2015.

Benartzi has supplemented his academic research with policy work and practical experience. He has advised government agencies in the U.S. and abroad and has helped craft numerous legislative efforts. He currently serves as chief scientist for the California Digital Nudge Initiative. He has also worked with many financial institutions, served on multiple advisory boards and serves as a senior academic advisor for the VOYA Institute for Behavioral Finance Innovation.

 

Education

Ph.D., 1994, Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University

B.A. Economics, cum laude, 1989, Tel-Aviv University

 

Books

Benartzi, Shlomo, with Jonah Lehrer, “The Smarter Screen: Surprising Ways to Influence and Improve Online Behavior,” Penguin, 2015.

Benartzi, Shlomo, with Roger Lewin, “Thinking Smarter: Seven Steps to Your Fulfilling Retirement ... and Life,” Penguin, 2015.

Benartzi, Shlomo, with Roger Lewin, “Save More Tomorrow: Practical Behavioral Finance Solutions to Improve 401(k) Plans,” Penguin, 2012.

 

Selected Articles

Benartzi, Shlomo, John Beshears, Katherine L. Milkman, Cass Sunstein, Richard H. Thaler, Maya Shankar, Will Tucker, William J. Congdon and Steven Galing, “Should Governments Invest More in Nudges?” Psych Science, forthcoming .

Benartzi, Shlomo and Richard H. Thaler, “Behavioral Economics and the Retirement Savings Crisis,” Science, March 8, 2013, Vol. 339, pp. 1152–1153. [ Link ]

Benartzi, Shlomo, Alessandro Previtero, and Richard H. Thaler, “Annuity Puzzles,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, Fall 2011, Vol. 25.4, pp. 143–64. [ Link ]

Shlomo Benartzi, and Richard H. Thaler. (Summer 2007). Heuristics and Biases in Retirement Savings Behavior. Journal of Economic Perspectives. [ Link ]

Shlomo Benartzi, and Richard H. Thaler. (February 2004). Save More Tomorrow: Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Savings. Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 112.1, Part 2, pp. S164-S187. [ Link ]

Shlomo Benartzi, and Richard H. Thaler. (March 2001). Naive Diversification Strategies in Retirement Saving Plans. American Economic Review, Vol. 91.1, pp. 79-98. [ Link ]

Shlomo Benartzi, and Richard H. Thaler. (February 1995). Myopic Loss-Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle. Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 110.1, pp. 73-92. [ Link ]

 

Wall Street Journal Columns

The Mistakes We Make When Giving to Charity [ Link ] 

Before Retiring, Take This Simple Test [ Link ] 

How to Get More Pleasure Out of Retirement Spending [ Link ]

The Financial Price of Forgetting Bad Times [ Link ] 

How People Underestimate Spending in Retirement [ Link ]

Why Fund Ratings Could Be Misleading [ Link ] 

How Social Media Can Feed Investors’ Panic [ Link ] 

Keep Stock-Market Apps Off Your Phone [ Link ] 

 

Video

TED Talk: “Saving for Tomorrow, Tomorrow”
 

Teaching

Psychology and Personal Finance

Class 1 - Prospect Theory

Class 2 - Heuristics and Biases

Class 3 - Suboptimal Spending

Class 4 - Investment Mistakes

Classes 5 & 6 - Retirement Savings and Planning

Class 7 - Money and Happiness

Sample Final Projects