Normative influence on retirement savings decisions: Do people care what employers and the government want?


Paul Gerrans, PhD, UWA Business School, The University of Western Australia, M250, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia. Email:


The need for Australians to increase retirement savings has been widely promoted. Yet our understanding of the motivations of individuals to save at a higher rate remains sparse. This article reports the findings of a survey of superannuation fund members and their intentions to contribute more to superannuation and to manage their investment strategy. The article uses the theory of planned behaviour to focus on the important motivational influence of social norms. Formative research identified a number of influential social referents. Among identified referents, the study found that spouses appear to be the primary source of social influence for retirement savings decisions. The government and employers appear to exert little influence, and financial advisors and superannuation funds take up the middle ground of social influence. Possibilities for interventions designed to influence behaviour are discussed; however, conclusions are tempered by the fact that correspondence between intention and behaviour is not tested in the present research.