Personal Retirement Saving Programs and Asset Accumulation: Reconciling the Evidence
AbstractOver the past several years, we have undertaken a series of analysies of the effect of IRA and 401(k) contributions on net personal saving. Saver hetero- geneity is the key impediment to determining the saving effect of these plans We emphasize that no single method can provide sure control for all forms of heterogeneity. Taken together, however, we believe that the analyses address the key complications presented by heterogeneity. In our view, the weight of the evidence, based on the many non-parametric approaches discussed here provides strong support for the view that contributions to IRA and 401(k) represent largely new saving. Some of the evidence is directed to the IRA program, some to the 401(k) plan, and some to both plans. Several other investigators have used different methods to consider the effect of these retirement saving programs on personal saving and in some cases have reached very different conclusions from ours. Thus we have devoted particular effort to trying to reconcile the results, explaining why different approaches, sometimes based on the same data, have led to different conclusions. In some instances, we believe the limitations of the methods used by others have undermined the reliability of the results. Particular attention is devoted to a recent paper by Gale and Scholz  that is widely cited as demonstrating that IRAs have no saving effect. Based on our analysis of the data used by Gale and Scholz, we find that their conclusions are inconsistent with the raw data and their formal model does not provide reliable information on the extent of substitution.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5599.
Date of creation: May 1996
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 91-112, Fall 1996.
Note: AG PE
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Other versions of this item:
- James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti, 1998. "Personal Retirement Saving Programs and Asset Accumulation: Reconciling the Evidence," NBER Chapters, in: Frontiers in the Economics of Aging, pages 23-124 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.