Matthew Shapiro and a research team at the University of Michigan and the University of California, Berkeley have successfully completed an innovative, two-year data infrastructure pilot that lays the groundwork for providing invaluable data regarding the real-time financial activities of older Americans as they work, transition into, and complete retirement. The Michigan/Berkeley team relied on data from a mobile payments application, Check (previously known as Pageonce) that integrates individuals’ bank accounts, credit cards, and asset accounts. With this data, the research team developed a data infrastructure that can be used to study individual income paths, consumption patterns, wealth levels, and financial portfolio choices of Americans, with a specific focus in this study on older Americans, more than 40,000 of which are Check users.
Funds from this grant provide continued support for the project, allowing the team to move from pilot to production of the data infrastructure and maintain a panel dataset of the work, income, spending, and balance sheet of a population of approximately one million users. Subsequent analyses will allow the research team to examine behavior of older Americans as they face labor market transitions, health shocks, and the take up of Social Security; produce time series estimates of income and spending for novel aggregates including, for example, spending and income by age and type; and study the quality of financial decisions among older populations and of behavioral reactions to discrete financial events like income tax refunds.
The team has instituted numerous safeguards to ensure the confidentiality and privacy of individual consumer data are strictly protected.