NBER

Tatiana Homonoff

New York University
Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service
295 Lafayette Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
Tel: 212/998-7443

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NBER Program Affiliations: CH , PE
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow
Institutional Affiliation: New York University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

July 2020How Much to Save? Decision Costs and Retirement Plan Participation
with Jacob Goldin, Richard W. Patterson, William L. Skimmyhorn: w27575
Deciding how much to save for retirement can be complicated. Drawing on a field experiment conducted with the Department of Defense, we study whether such complexity depresses participation in an employer-sponsored retirement saving plan. We find that simplifying one dimension of the enrollment decision, by highlighting a potential rate at which non-participants might contribute, increases participation in the plan. Similar communications that did not include a highlighted rate yield smaller effects. The results highlight how reducing complexity on the intensive margin of a decision (how much to contribute) can affect extensive margin behavior (whether to contribute at all) in a setting of policy interest.
June 2020Program Recertification Costs: Evidence from SNAP
with Jason Somerville: w27311
Recipients of means-tested program benefits must periodically document continued eligibility through a recertification process. We find evidence that the administrative burden associated with SNAP recertification leads to decreases in program participation. Cases assigned to later recertification interview dates, which leave less time to reschedule missed interviews, are over 20 percent less likely to recertify than cases assigned to interviews earlier in the month. Cases that fail recertification due to later assignments lose an average of $600 in benefits in the following year. These losses are highly skewed: many cases quickly re-enroll, while one quarter remain off SNAP for over a year post-recertification.
December 2019Balance Sheet Insolvency and Contribution Revenue in Public Charities
with Thomas L. Spreen, Travis St.Clair: w26546
Using Form 990 data reported by public charities, we document significant bunching of nonprofits at near-zero net assets, the threshold for insolvency. Bunching occurs despite the fact that creditors cannot force insolvent nonprofits into involuntary bankruptcy. We show that the extent of bunching is greater among organizations that rely more heavily on contribution revenue, and that by inflating their net assets, bunching organizations are able to increase their contribution revenue relative to firms that report negative net assets. Charitable donors appear to use the net assets threshold as a heuristic for a charity's financial health; nonprofit managers, in turn, respond to the preferences of their donors.

Published: Tatiana Homonoff & Thomas Luke Spreen & Travis St. Clair, 2020. "Balance sheet insolvency and contribution revenue in public charities," Journal of Public Economics, vol 186.

July 2019Does Knowing Your FICO Score Change Financial Behavior? Evidence from a Field Experiment with Student Loan Borrowers
with Rourke O'Brien, Abigail B. Sussman: w26048
One in five consumer credit accounts incur late fees each quarter. Evidence on the efficacy of regulations to improve behavior through enhanced disclosure of financial product attributes is mixed. We test a novel form of disclosure that provides borrowers with a personalized measure of their creditworthiness. In a field experiment with over 400,000 student loan borrowers, treatment group members received communications about the availability of their FICO Score. The intervention significantly reduced late payments and increased borrowers’ FICO Scores. Survey data show treatment group members were less likely to overestimate their FICO Scores, suggesting the intervention may correct for overoptimism.

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