We have all heard at some point about the crisis we are facing when it comes to financial planning for retirement, where people are not saving enough for retirement. Nonetheless, certain segments of the population fare worse in this area. Women are more likely than men to work in part-time jobs, which makes them less likely to have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. As a result of the gender income gap, women also accumulate much less in their retirement accounts than men. Hispanic women in fact tend to fare even worse, where they have lower median retirement savings in comparison to males and other minorities. Hispanic women also show lower levels of financial literacy than other groups.

We designed and conducted two Facebook experiments with the purpose to tackle the issue of Hispanic women lagging behind when it comes to retirement preparedness. Through the Facebook ad platform we showed three different messages in Spanish and constructed a mobile-friendly website that provided concise information in Spanish about retirement planning and saving and other useful links.

Using metrics provided by Facebook and Google Analytics, we found that a message centered on peer influence may be more successful than a message centered on familism in getting Hispanic women interested in learning more about financial planning for retirement.  In the peer-effect centered message we emphasized peer influence as well as self-empowerment, suggesting that having a plan for retirement is something desirable and attainable. This message affirms that other women like them already have a retirement saving plan, and it is attainable for viewers to do the same. In the message centered on the family, we emphasized the importance of familial relations, and suggested that having a plan for retirement is something that should be done to protect one’s self and family.

When we disaggregate our data by age and state, we find that click-through rates were higher among Hispanic women between 45 and 55 years old, and the largest numbers of impressions were among Hispanic women in California and Texas through an Android smartphone.

Facebook advertising has been used in several health-related studies, but Facebook has not been used extensively for academic studies in the area of financial education. Facebook is a very useful tool for engaging ‘hard-to-reach’ populations. Our intervention leverages in social media, which might be a simple and cost-effective way to promote better financial management practices among Hispanic women.

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For further discussion on this topic

Read the recently published ‘Delivering information about retirement saving among Hispanic women: two Facebook experiments’ in the journal Behavioral Public Policywhich can be accessed online at this link. Enjoy free access until the end of December 2018.

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