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Pension Wealth at Midlife: Comparing Self-Reports with Provider Data

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  • Johnson, Richard W
  • Sambamoorthi, Usha
  • Crystal, Stephen

Abstract

This paper evaluates the accuracy of estimates of pension wealth based on self-reports by comparing them to estimates based on provider data. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, we found that few workers are well informed about their future pension benefits. Self-reports were often incomplete and typically varied widely from those based on information from providers. In defined benefit (DB) plans, discrepancies were greatest for workers who had limited education, earned low wages, and did not expect to retire soon. Differences in median pension wealth were smaller at the aggregate level than the individual level, because individual differences tended to offset each other when aggregated. Provider data appear better than self-reports for DB plans, but not for defined contribution (DC) plans. Where both are available, the best method of computing pension wealth may be to estimate DB wealth from provider data and to estimate DC wealth from self-reports. Copyright 2000 by The International Association for Research in Income and Wealth.

Suggested Citation

  • Johnson, Richard W & Sambamoorthi, Usha & Crystal, Stephen, 2000. "Pension Wealth at Midlife: Comparing Self-Reports with Provider Data," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(1), pages 59-83, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:46:y:2000:i:1:p:59-83
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    Cited by:

    1. Wolff, Edward N., 2007. "The retirement wealth of the baby boom generation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-40, January.
    2. Smith, Karen E. & Johnson, Richard W. & Muller, Leslie A., 2004. "Deferring Income in Employer–Sponsored Retirement Plans: The Dynamics of Participant Contributions," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 57(3), pages 639-670, September.
    3. Gary V. Engelhardt & Anil Kumar, 2007. "Employer Matching and 401(k) Saving: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study," NBER Chapters,in: Public Policy and Retirement, Trans-Atlantic Public Economics Seminar (TAPES), pages 1920-1943 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Edward N. Wolff, 2011. "Pensions in the 2000s: the Lost Decade?," NBER Working Papers 16991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Edward N. Wolff, 2005. "Is the Equalizing Effect of Retirement Wealth Wearing Off?," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_420, Levy Economics Institute.
    6. Gary V. Engelhardt & Anil Kumar, 2011. "Pensions and Household Wealth Accumulation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(1), pages 203-236.
    7. Edward N. Wolff, 2006. "The Adequacy of Retirement Resources among the Soon-to-Retire, 1983-2001," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_472, Levy Economics Institute.
    8. Edward N. Wolff, 2015. "U.S. Pensions in the 2000s: The Lost Decade?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 61(4), pages 599-629, December.

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