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When Smaller Menus Are Better: Variability in Menu Setting Ability
Management Science (2013)
  • David Goldreich, University of Toronto
  • Hanna Halaburda, Bank of Canada
Are large menus better than small menus? Recent literature argues that individuals' apparent preference for smaller menus can be explained by choosers' behavioral biases or informational limitations. These explanations imply that absent behavioral or informational effects, larger menus would be objectively better. However, in an important economic context—401(k) pension plans--we find that larger menus are objectively worse than smaller menus, as measured by the maximum Sharpe ratio achievable. We propose a model in which menu setters differ in their ability to pre-select the menu. We show that when the cost of increasing the menu size is sufficiently small, a lower-ability menu setter optimally offers more items in the menu than a higher-ability menu setter. Nevertheless, the menu optimally offered by a higher-ability menu setter remains superior. This results in a negative relation between menu size and menu quality: smaller menus are better than larger menus.
  • menu,
  • menu setting,
  • choice,
  • pension plans,
  • 401(k)
Publication Date
November, 2013
Citation Information
David Goldreich and Hanna Halaburda, "When Smaller Menus Are Better: Variability in MenuSetting Ability," Management Science 59, no. 11 (2013): 2518-2535