Back in 2006, the UK government had a big problem. Life expectancy across the country was rising, yet the number of workers enrolled in private and workplace pensions was falling. How could the UK support millions of people who lacked a pension big enough to see them through retirement?
The answer – a very simple answer – came in the shape of behavioral economics, a hybrid of economics and social psychology. In just a few decades it has redefined the understanding of how humans act and make choices.
The pensions pot remedy
Instead of spending money on welfare reforms or running expensive advertising campaigns to encourage workplace pension enrollment, the UK authorities simply changed the default: under the old system, workers had to actively opt-in to a workplace pension. While most people see pensions as an important part of their future, doing something about it in the here and now isn’t quite so easy. Apathy reigns supreme. So the UK government changed the game by making workplace pensions opt-out, not opt-in – switching that apathy to everyone’s advantage. This simple change has increased private pension enrollments from 2.7 million in 2012 to 7.7 million in 2016.