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The impact of participation in employment-based retirement savings plans on material hardship




To contribute to a retirement plan (barring an increase in income), an individual must either reduce consumption or increase debt. Using data from the 2004 wave of the Survey of Income and Program Participation, we examine the extent to which contributing to 401(k)-type accounts leads to an increase in short-term financial difficulties, particularly among low-income individuals. After instrumenting for plan take-up, we find that contributing to a 401(k) plan appears to have a small positive impact on the presence of any material hardship and debt holding among the lowest income quintiles, though that effect diminishes further up the income distribution.

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  • Heim, Bradley T. & Ramnath, Shanthi P., 2016. "The impact of participation in employment-based retirement savings plans on material hardship," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(4), pages 407-428, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jpenef:v:15:y:2016:i:04:p:407-428_00

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