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

Does Autoenrollment Affect Employer Contributions?

Publication

Low participation rates limit the effectiveness of 401(k) plans as a reliable source of retirement income. About one in five workers eligible to participate in their employer’s 401(k) plans do not enroll (Munnell, Golub-Sass, and Muldoon 2009). Firms can raise participation rates by automatically enrolling employees as soon as they become eligible.

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401(k) Plans and Race

Publication

Many data sources show a disparity among racial and ethnic groups regarding participation in and contributions to 401(k) plans. The question is whether racial and ethnic differentials remain after controlling for a broader array of factors included in a nationally representative sample of households, the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF).

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401(k) Plans: Policy Changes Could Reduce the Long-term Effects of Leakage on Workers’ Retirement Savings

Publication

GAO was asked to analyze (1) the incidence, amount, and relative significance of the different forms of 401(k) leakage; (2) how plans inform participants about hardship withdrawal provisions, loan provisions, and options at job separation, including the short- and long-term costs of each; and (3) how various policies may affect the incidence of leakage.

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401(k) Plans and Retirement Savings: Issues for Congress

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This report describes seven major policy issues with respect to defined contribution plans.

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An Update on 401(k) Plans: Insights from the 2007 SCF

Publication

The Survey of Consumer Finances is a triennial survey of a nationally representative sample of U.S. households, which collects detailed information on households’ assets, liabilities, and demographic characteristics.

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401(k) plans move away from employer stock as investment vehicle

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A look at the trend in 401(k) investment options over the past two decades shows a steady move away from employer stock as an investment vehicle.

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Fee Disclosure to Pension Participants: Establishing Minimum Requirements

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Every year pension participants pay billions of dollars in fees. They need information concerning fees to make informed decisions about the services they are purchasing...This analysis of fee disclosure takes into account insights from behavioral economics in assessing the usefulness of different approaches...The report proposes a model fee disclosure.

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Storm Clouds Ahead for 401(k) Plans?

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Designed to promote retirement saving, the Pension Protection Act of 2006 clarified auto-enrollment, auto-contribution, and auto-investment rules in employer 401(k) plans. Early evidence suggests that the legislation boosted these plan features and increased employee participation in 401(k) plans.

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Robbing Tomorrow to Pay for Today: Economically Squeezed Families Are Turning to Their 401(k)s to Make Ends Meet

Publication

To reduce the likelihood of workers leveraging their retirement to cover current catastrophes, policymakers must reduce the need for people to borrow. Policy solutions will require substantial improvements to income growth for America’s families, and a commitment to providing health and unemployment insurance to citizens who experience unexpected health expenditures and job loss.

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Private Pensions: Low Defined Contribution Plan Savings May Pose Challenges to Retirement Security, Especially for Many Low-Income Workers

Publication

This report addresses the following issues: (1) What percentage of workers participate in defined contribution (DC) plans, and how much have they saved in them? (2) How much are workers likely to have saved in DC plans over their careers and to what degree do key individual decisions and plan features affect plan saving?

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