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Do 401(k) Contributions Crowd Out Other Persoanl Saving?

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  • James M. Poterba
  • Steven F. Venti
  • David A. Wise

Abstract

During the late 1980s. contributions to 401(k) plans eclipsed contributions to Individual Retirement Accounts as the leading form of tax-deferred individual retirement saving. This paper uses data from the 1984. 1987. and 1991 Surveys of Income and Program Participation to describe patterns of participation in and contributions to 401(k) plans. and to evaluate the net impact of these contributions on personal saving. We find that 401(k) participation conditional on eligibility exceeds sixty percent at all income levels. This pattern contrasts with Individual Retirement Accounts in the early 1980s. which exhibited a sharply rising profile of participation across income groups. We study the net effect of 401(k) contributions on personal saving by comparing the growth of non-401(k) assets for contributors and noncontributors. and by comparing the level of wealth for families who are eligible for 401(k)s with that of those who are not. We find little evidence that 401(k) contributions substitute for other forms of private saving. We also explore the substitutability of 401(k) contributions for IRA contributions. and revisit the question of whether IRAs substitute for other types of saving. Our findings suggest little substitution on either margin.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4391.

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Date of creation: Jun 1993
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Publication status: published as Journal of Public Economics, vol. 58, (1995), pp. 1-32
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4391

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  1. Poterba, J.M. & Venti, S.F. & Wise, D.A., 1992. "401(k) Plans and Tax-Deferred Savings," Working papers 92-14, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1991. "The Saving Effect of Tax-deferred Retirement Accounts: Evidence from SIPP," NBER Chapters, in: National Saving and Economic Performance, pages 103-130 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gale, W.G. & Scholz, J.K., 1990. "Iras And Household Savings," Working papers 9009, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  4. Shefrin, Hersh M & Thaler, Richard H, 1988. "The Behavioral Life-Cycle Hypothesis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 609-43, October.
  5. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1992. "Government Policy and Personal Retirement Saving," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 6, pages 1-42 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Hilary W. Hoynes & Daniel L. McFadden, 1996. "The Impact of Demographics on Housing and Nonhousing Wealth in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: The Economic Effects of Aging in the United States and Japan, pages 153-194 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. David A. Wise & Steven F. Venti, 1993. "The Wealth of Cohorts: Retirement Saving and the Changing Assets of Older Americans," NBER Working Papers 4600, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Jerry A. Hausman & James M. Poterba, 1986. "Household Behavior and the Tax Reform Act of 1986," Working papers 437, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. Andrea L. Kusko & James M. Poterba & David W. Wilcox, 1994. "Employee Decisions with Respect to 401(k) Plans: Evidence From Individual-Level Data," NBER Working Papers 4635, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. B. Douglas Bernheim & John B. Shoven, 1988. "Pension Funding and Saving," NBER Chapters, in: Pensions in the U.S. Economy, pages 85-114 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. 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.
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