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Will Automatic Enrollment Reduce Employer Contributions to 401(k) Plans?

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  • Mauricio Soto
  • Barbara A. Butrica

Abstract

Many employers match employee contributions to 401(k) plans. However, the employer cost of continuing this practice may increase rapidly as trends towards automatic enrollment boost employee participation. This paper examines the relationship between employer matching behavior and automatic enrollment. Using a sample of large 401(k) plans, we find that match rates are about 7 percentage points lower among firms with automatic enrollment than among those without automatic enrollment, even controlling for firm characteristics. So while autoenrollment increases the number of workers participating in private pensions, our findings suggest it might also reduce the level of pension contributions.

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File URL: http://crr.bc.edu/working-papers/will-automatic-enrollment-reduce-employer-contributions-to-401k-plans/
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Center for Retirement Research in its series Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College with number wp2009-33.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2009
Date of revision: Dec 2009
Handle: RePEc:crr:crrwps:wp2009-33

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  1. Gary V. Engelhardt & Anil Kumar, 2006. "Employer Matching and 401(k) Saving: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study," NBER Working Papers 12447, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2010. "The Impact of Employer Matching on Savings Plan Participation under Automatic Enrollment," NBER Chapters, in: Research Findings in the Economics of Aging, pages 311-327 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Leslie E. Papke, 1995. "Participation in and Contributions to 401(k) Pension Plans: Evidence from Plan Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(2), pages 311-325.
  4. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2002. "Defined Contribution Pensions: Plan Rules, Participant Decisions, and the Path of Least Resistance," JCPR Working Papers 257, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  5. Brady, Peter J., 2007. "Pension nondiscrimination rules and the incentive to cross subsidize employees," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(02), pages 127-145, July.
  6. Duflo, Esther & Gale, William & Liebman, Jeff & Orszag, Peter & Saez, Emmanuel, 2005. "Saving Incentives for Low- and Middle-Income Families: Evidence from a Field Experiment with H&R Block," CEPR Discussion Papers 5332, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Papke, Leslie E. & Poterba, James M., 1995. "Survey evidence on employer match rates and employee saving behavior in 401(k) plans," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 313-317, September.
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