MetLife Foundation, the National Retirement Savings Commission [CONSAR] and ideas42 are proud to present the results of a comprehensive study to increase voluntary pension fund contributions in Mexico. The study, “Using Behavioral Science to Increase Retirement Savings," conducted with a grant from MetLife Foundation, draws on a behavioral approach to identify barriers towards retirement savings and proposes solutions to maximize savings in AFORE (individual private pension plan) accounts.

Because the bar for mandatory retirement savings is set rather low in Mexico, voluntary contributions play an overwhelming role in increasing the replacement rate for savers. With that in mind, the study delves into the essential behavioral factors that influence the savings process and proposes solutions to increase voluntary saving.

Dennis White, CEO and President of the MetLife Foundation, pointed out that currently, "over 2.5 billion people, nearly half of the global population, live on less than 40 pesos a day, and the vast majority do not have access to basic financial services. In this context, for MetLife Foundation and Fundación MetLife in Mexico, it is a priority to promote the use of financial tools among Mexicans, not only to raise awareness about the benefits of using these tools positively, but also to expand their possibilities both now and in the future, as well as give them access to better opportunities and a better quality of life."

Interviews for the study were conducted with a sample of employees who have AFORE accounts in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey, as well as with various actors in the Retirement Savings System and other experts. These steps are part of idea42's study methodology, known as "behavioral mapping," which examines the recurring psychological and situational characteristics of Mexicans to figure out why we are not saving enough and how we can begin to do so.

As such, this study is grounded in the behavioral science theories defined by the ideas42 approach, which identified four common barriers that could help explain why the voluntary savings rate among Mexicans is so low:

  • There are no visible cues to consider retirement. Attention is rather given to what is right in front of us (and what is more urgent).
  • We are immersed in the here and now. We are predisposed to the present; we think that an immediate reward is more attractive than the same (or better) award in the future.
  • Uncertainty about the future discourages action. Retirement can make people feel uncomfortable or uncertain, which causes us to delay or choose not to take the actions needed to save.
  • AFOREs are not included in the choice set. Currently, outreach from AFOREs to inform and remind account holders that these accounts are a valuable option is rather limited. Moreover, the content of the information is frequently too complex to be useful.

Based on the four barriers described above, ideas42 proposed a series of solutions, which, in conjunction, could help achieve the objective of the retirement savings program. These include:

  • Make saving for retirement an automatic and effortless process
  • Make retirement feel vivid
  • Lessen the feeling of loss
  • Make saving for retirement more visible and commonplace
  • Build new habits among staff
  • Bundle enrollment 

"Human behavior depends in large measure on the context. Drawing on a behavioral approach to retirement saving in Mexico, this study seeks to maximize the likelihood that people will follow up on their intent to save," said Allisa Fishbane, General Manager of ideas42.

Similarly, Carlos Ramírez Fuentes, President of CONSAR, underscored that the "study findings will give us a better idea of the reasons behind why Mexican workers are not saving for retirement. For that reason, we would like to thank the MetLife Foundation and ideas42 for this extremely valuable research, which will aid us in designing better policies and programs to encourage voluntary saving in AFORE accounts."

These recommendations will help CONSAR to work with the AFORE system to promote simple, clear, and accesible actions for workers to increase voluntary savings in their AFORE accounts, as well as encourage suitable planning for future saving goals.

The study published by ideas42 is available to the public at:

About MetLife Foundation 
The MetLife Foundation was created in 1976 to continue MetLife's longstanding tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Since it was founded, as of the end of 2013, MetLife Foundation has provided more than 670 million USD in grants and 70 million USD in program-related investments with a positive impact on communities. Currently, the foundation is focused on promoting financial inclusion, and has committed an additional 200 million USD to build a secure future for individuals and communities all over the world. For more information, visit