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Defined Contribution Plans (such as 401(k)s) and IRAs

Employee Stock Ownership Plans: Are They Worth the Risks?

Publication

In good financial times, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) have the appearance of being an excellent deal for employees, because ESOPs offer partial ownership over the company that employs them.

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Laying the Groundwork for More Efficient Retirement Savings Incentives (November 2015)

Publication

This report begins by highlighting a few basic reform principles that would make savings incentives more efficient to guide the subsequent recommendations. The report then summarizes the main problems that underlie the inefficiencies of current savings incentives, followed by recommendations to address these problems.

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The Inefficiencies of Existing Retirement Savings Incentives (October 2015)

Publication

America’s middle class faces a growing retirement crisis. More than half of all working-age households are expected to be at risk of having to cut back their standard of living—often making painful adjustments—when they retire. There are several reasons for the ever-larger looming crisis, but people’s inability to save enough money is a key obstacle to achieving more retirement security.

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Retirement Savings Flows and Financial Advice: Should You Roll Over Your 401(k) Plan?

Publication

This paper addresses several issues relating to rollovers from 401(k) plans to IRAs, including the extent of inertia among pension participants, the extent to which defaults (which are to not rollover) are effective in influencing behavior of participants, the extent of financial errors made by pension participants, the quality of advice pension participants are receiving (and how that may be a

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Fixing the Drain on Retirement Savings

Publication

Less than one in five American workers in private industry has access to defined benefit pension plans. As a result, most Americans’ quality of life during retirement depends on whether they have invested in retirement savings vehicles such as 401(k)s and Individual Retirement Accounts, or IRAs, and how their investments perform.

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Private Pensions: Pension Tax Incentives Update

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We issued reports in 2001 and 2011 that, among other things, examined the trends in plan formation and the characteristics of participants affected by the statutory limits for contributions to defined contribution (DC) plans.

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401(k) Plans: Labor and IRS Could Improve the Rollover Process for Participants

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401(k) plan participants separating from their employers must decide what to do with their plan savings. Many roll over their plan savings to IRAs. As GAO previously reported, there concern that participants may be encouraged to choose rollovers to IRAs in lieu of options that could be more in their interests.

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401(k) Plans in 2010: An Update from the SCF (July 2012)

Publication

The release of the Federal Reserve’s 2010 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) is a great opportunity to assess how conflicting forces – the maturation of the system and the Pension Protection Act of 2006 on the one hand and the devastating effects of the 2008 financial collapse and Great Recession on the other hand – have affected workers’ 401(k) accounts.

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401(k) Plans: Improved Regulation Could Better Protect Participants from Conflicts of Interest

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Recent volatility in financial markets highlights the need for prudent investment decisions if 401(k) plans are to provide an adequate source of retirement income. While plan sponsors and participants may receive help in assessing their investment choices, concerns have been raised about the impartiality of the advice provided.

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Federal Employee Participation Patterns in the Thrift Savings Plan Calendar Year 2007

Publication

The United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) analyzed participation in the Thrift Saving Plan (TSP) to identify employee participation rates and determine if the data suggests possible actions to be taken to improve the methods by which we educate Federal employees so they will be better able to plan for retirement.

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