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Individual Retirement Accounts: A Review of the Evidence

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  • Jonathan Skinner

Abstract

Recent legislative proposals have included restoring Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) to their pre-1987 eligibility rules. Whether IRAs are simply tax windfalls with no effect on saving, or whether IRAs stimulate saving, is a crucial issue in evaluating the effectiveness of such proposals. In this paper, I review the previous literature on IRAs as well as presenting new evidence on the saving behavior of IRA contributors. In brief, IRA contributors are wealthier and older than the general population. There is no clear consensus from structural economic models on whether IRA contributions are new saving or old, shuffled, saving. Nevertheless, IRA contributors during the 1980s were remarkably active savers. For example, the typical IRA contributor was estimated to hav~ increased total financial wealth in real terms by 71 percent between 1982-86. Individual Retirement Accounts may have induced saving through psychological factors not normally present in orthodox economic models, but evidence on such factors is speculative rather than conclusive.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3938.

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Date of creation: Dec 1991
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3938

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  1. Long, James E., 1990. "Marginal Tax Rates and IRA Contributions," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 43(2), pages 143-53, June Cita.
  2. Mankiw, N.G. & Zeldes, S.P., 1990. "The Consumption Of Stockholders And Non-Stockholders," Weiss Center Working Papers 23-90, Wharton School - Weiss Center for International Financial Research.
  3. Summers, Lawrence H, 1981. "Capital Taxation and Accumulation in a Life Cycle Growth Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 533-44, September.
  4. Daniel Feenberg & Jonathan Skinner, 1989. "Sources of IRA Saving," NBER Working Papers 2845, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Daniel Feenberg & Jonathan Skinner, 1989. "Sources of IRA Saving," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 3, pages 25-46 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Venti, Steven F & Wise, David A, 1986. "Tax-Deferred Accounts, Constrained Choice and Estimation of Individual Saving," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(4), pages 579-601, August.
  6. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1986. "IRAs and Saving," NBER Working Papers 1879, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1987. "IRAs and Saving," NBER Chapters, in: The Effects of Taxation on Capital Accumulation, pages 7-52 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. E. Philip Howrey & Saul H. Hymans, 1978. "The Measurement and Determination of Loanable-Funds Saving," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 9(3), pages 655-685.
  8. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 339-57, April.
  9. Horioka, Charles Yuji, 1990. "Why is Japan's household saving rate so high? A literature survey," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 49-92, March.
  10. Venti, Steven F & Wise, David A, 1990. "Have IRAs Increased U.S. Saving? Evidence from Consumer Expenditure Surveys," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(3), pages 661-98, August.
  11. Martin Feldstein & Daniel Feenberg, 1985. "Alternative Tax Rules and Personal Savings Incentives: Microeconomic Data and Behavioral Simulations," NBER Working Papers 0681, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. O'Neil, Cherie J. & Thompson, G. Rodney, 1988. "Taxation and IRA Participation: A Response to Long," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 41(4), pages 591-93, December .
  13. Chris Carroll & Lawrence H. Summers, 1990. "Why Have Private Saving Rates in the United States and Canada Diverged?," NBER Working Papers 2319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Jane G. Gravelle, 1991. "Do Individual Retirement Accounts Increase Savings?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 133-148, Spring.
  15. Bovenberg, A. Lans, 1989. "Tax Policy and National Saving in the United States: A Survey," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 42(2), pages 123-38, June Cita.
  16. Evans, Owen J, 1983. "Tax Policy, the Interest Elasticity of Saving, and Capital Accumulation: Numerical Analysis of Theoretical Models," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 398-410, June.
  17. Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Saving, Fungibility, and Mental Accounts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 193-205, Winter.
  18. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
  19. Boskin, Michael J, 1978. "Taxation, Saving, and the Rate of Interest," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(2), pages S3-27, April.
  20. Barro, Robert J, 1989. "The Ricardian Approach to Budget Deficits," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 37-54, Spring.
  21. Collins, Julie H. & Wyckoff, James H., 1988. "Estimates of Tax-Deferred Retirement Savings Behavior," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 41(4), pages 561-572, December .
  22. Michael J. Boskin, 1978. "Taxation, Saving, and the Rate of Interest," NBER Chapters, in: Research in Taxation, pages 3-27 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Charles Mullin & Tomas Philipson, 1997. "The Future of Old-Age Longevity: Competitive Pricing of Mortality Contingent Claims," NBER Working Papers 6042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Karen E. Smith & Richard W. Johnson & Leslie A. Muller, 2004. "Deferring Income in Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans: The Dynamics of Participant Contributions," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College 2004-20, Center for Retirement Research.

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